Thursday, March 25, 2004 | 11:08 a.m.
Barrick Gaming Corp. executives took control of the Plaza, Las Vegas Club, Western and Gold Spike hotel-casinos shortly after midnight this morning.
The $82 million sale of the four casinos plus substantial additional downtown real estate accumulated by casino-owning legend Jackie Gaughan was marked in a brief ceremony near the Plaza's table game pit.
State Gaming Control Board officials monitored the emptying and counting of the properties' slot hoppers and table game drop boxes, while Barrick officials broke out new casino chips and worker uniforms that sported the company's Jetsons-style logos.
Chairman and Chief Executive D. W. Barrick said he and President Stephen Crystal plan to meet with almost every employee of the company on Friday.
The two executives will hold a 17-hour session from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m., meeting workers before or after their shifts.
"That's the whole basis of the company," Barrick said, who said the company plans to add employees to allow for improved customer service and a general "freshening up" of the properties.
Barrick said he walked from the Western to the Gold Spike, and from there walked to the Las Vegas Club and the Plaza late Wednesday night, and said the transition was working smoothly.
Barrick said he and Crystal walk the same route each morning. The company's purchase includes almost six square blocks of land around the Western, property the company hopes to develop into a Hispanic-themed casino.
The company's first major planned project is to tear down the brick Fremont Street-front of the Las Vegas Club, replacing it with an open-air front and live entertainment.
The company plans to improve revenue by increasing the use of database marketing, add new special events and entertainment choices, improve convention sales and boost high-end casino play by hiring seven casino hosts.