24-hour operation schedule
County casino joins
statewide move to keep doors open 24/7
FLORENCE, Ind. (July 2003) A switch to 24-hour
gaming seven days a week is in the cards for Belterra Casino in Vevay,
Ind., beginning in July. Belterra followed suit of another southern
Indiana casino, Caesars Glory of Rome Casino, located near Jeffersonville,
in requesting permission from the states gaming commission to
extend operating hours.
Belterra General Manager
We were debating for a while operating 24 hours
only on weekends and holidays, said Belterra General Manager Alain
Uboldi, when he received word from Caesars General Manger Barry Morris
that his casino planned to request 24-hour operating privileges every
day of the week. We decided to follow up and open 24 hours, too,
Since opening, Belterra has operated 20-21 hours each day, closing for
just a short time during the wee hours of the morning. The casino on
May 28 sent paperwork to the Indiana Gaming Commission requesting additional
operating hours. The commissions seven-member board will meet
July 11 for final approval. Pending approval, Belterra should be ready
to operate 24 hours a day no later than July 12, Uboldi said.
Caesars and Belterra arent the only casinos that have requested
24-hour operating privileges. All 10 of the states riverboat gambling
facilities have submitted some version of around-the-clock operating
plans for the commissions approval, according to gaming commission
spokesperson Jennifer Arnold. Not all of the boats will operate 24 hours
a day, seven days a week, said Arnold, but the commission wanted to
review plans of all the facilities at once.
by Don Ward
in Florence, Ind.
We didnt want to have to do this piece-meal,
Arnold said, noting that it was easier to approve all requests for 24-hour
gaming at the same time using the same standards and guidelines. We
do anticipate giving approval to all casinos at once, contingent upon
the commissioners acceptance of the plans, said Arnold.
The casinos requests to extend hours came in the wake of a provision
passed by state legislators in April allowing riverboat gambling facilities
to be open 24/7. Originally, the states gaming commission required
the casinos to be closed a certain number of hours each day for accounting
and auditing purposes.
But now that we have more experienced employees and weve
matured as a regulatory agency, said Arnold, were
comfortable that they can operate 24 hours without compromising the
integrity of the accounting and auditing process.
As a state regulatory agency, the gaming commission still has the authority
to impose rules and procedures that the casinos must follow in order
to retain their gaming licenses. Gaming commission agents, Indiana State
Troopers who operate on contract with the agency, serve on all riverboats
to insure that regulatory procedures are followed.
Procedures directed by the gaming commission include how money is transferred
during operating hours. It is very different to do a drop when
the casino is closed, said Uboldi, who explained that different
procedures are followed when transferring money with patrons on the
For example, said Uboldi, slot machine lanes may be closed two at a
time for about five minutes to be cleaned out. Each casino was required
to submit plans detailing their management of soft drop, involving the
transfer of paper money, hard drop, involving the removal of coins from
machines, security, surveillance and staffing, said Arnold.
Both casinos and state coffers should benefit from the new 24-hour gaming
law. It was not a bad decision for the state, said Uboldi,
asserting that increased revenue for Indiana casinos will result in
increased tax revenue for the state. Arnold agreed. I think that
it will raise more revenue for the state, she said.
Although allowing 24-hour gaming may be a big change for the gaming
commission and the casinos, some patrons say it will not effect their
experience that much.
It really doesnt make that much difference, said Belterra
patron Rose Babiak of Louisville, Ky. She admitted she probably wouldnt
be up that late or early to gamble but that the change
will be an advantage for those who are.
Others who have gambled in other states said its just par for
the course to be open around the clock. Ive never been to
a place that closed, said Tom Labrie of Pittsburgh, Pa., on a
recent visit to the Vevay resort.
Belterras timing for expanded hours may have been prompted by
Caesars decision, but they would have probably made a request
to switch eventually anyway in order to accommodate more patrons from
an expansion project at the casino. We would have gone to 24 hours
anyway in February 2004 when more rooms are ready, said Uboldi.
Next year, Belterra plans to open an additional 300 hotel rooms in a
second tower, now under construction. Belterra also will expand its
convention space and add an outdoor swimming pool, all part of an approximately
$37 million expansion project.
An experienced casino executive, Uboldi said he is well-prepared to
handle the changes necessary for a smooth transition at Belterra. He
worked for 20 years in Las Vegas, where around-the-clock gaming is standard.
It will be back to normal for me, he said.
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