What’s in a name: a solemn subject for state gamblers

Should the only state-owned casino Wyandotte County will have be named “Hard Rock” or “Hollywood,” that is the question.
The state gambling review board apparently is going to spend time making that earth-shaking decision.
When the NASCAR Speedway parent company, International Speedway Corp, joined with The Cordish Co. of Baltimore to put together a $681 million hotel and casino proposal it was to be called Hard Rock.
The name was considered very important. It would bring in customers because the brand was known worldwide. Kansas stood to make more money, thereby. Or so the Cordish people argued to the review board last year.
Then Penn National Gaming of Wyomissing, Pa., bought Cordish and decided the complex would take its brand name, Hollywood. Hollywood, Penn believes, would bring in still more customers. How could any brand be more widely recognized?
That the Kansas review board would spend any time debating this rose-by-any-other-name non-issue proves it doesn’t have enough to do.
David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, brought good sense to the subject. He said the name didn’t matter. The service customers were given at the casino and the hotel was “far more crucial,” he said.
“You could brand it the Apple Pie-American Casino, and if the service is lousy, people aren’t going to like it,” Schwartz said. “You’re only as good as your worst employee.”
Of greater interest to Kansans is that either a Hollywood casino, which will cost $539 million, or a Hard Rock casino, worth $521 million, may bring in as much as $50 million to the state treasury every year — a voluntary tax to be paid by patrons that would relieve other taxpayers of that much responsibility for paying the state’s bills — in addition to a huge chunk of property taxes and other additional revenues to Wyandotte County.
Call it whatever — “Suckers’ Paradise,” “The Happy Scam,” “High-Rollers Anonymous” — legions of Kansans who won’t go there can hardly wait for the doors to open.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.