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Sep 8, 2006

Las Vegas Casino officially opened in Corozal

Story PictureIt was an election year promise in 2003 but three years later, what was once barren land now boasts an impressive structure … and as News Five’s Janelle Chanona reports, Corozal has become the casino capital of the country.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
After three years of construction, this week the Las Vegas Casino officially opened it doors to the public.

George Hardie Sr., Owner, Las Vegas Casino
?Come on, let?s win, win, win!?

That?s exactly what George Hardie Sr. is hoping for, with a multi-million dollar investment to create his version of sin city in the Corozal district.

George Hardie Sr.
?We are always optimistic that everything would be good. We made a huge investment here. Maybe the largest investment as any single group has made without government guarantees or we just came on good faith and put an estimated eighteen million U.S. in so far. My investors and myself are just looking to make a fair profit and enjoy being here.?

And on Thursday, cameraman Chris Mangar and I got a personalized tour of Hardie?s big bet.

George Hardie Sr.
?You cannot pass the Buddha without rubbing his belly for luck … that?s it … you?ll have good luck today. He has money up here for you. You feel lucky? What?s your lucky number??

Janelle Chanona

George Hardie Sr.
?Two dollars on eight.?

Janelle Chanona
?I rubbed the Buddha so lets see what happens.?

George Hardie Sr.
?We?ll split the winnings.?

Janelle Chanona
?Twenty-seven! I should have bet my age.?

George Hardie Sr.
?You didn?t know that??

Roulette didn?t work out, but in this casino, there?s a game for every gambler.

George Hardie Sr.
?We?ve done a lot of training. Some people have been trained for maybe ten to twelve months here, which is a big expense for us. But I would stack our dealers against those in Vegas dealers, because they come everyday for ten months and practiced and learn the games that they deal. We are not going to have mistakes from the dealers.?

There?s high stakes in the Gold Club…

George Hardie Sr.
?Some players may get higher limits than others. I don?t know, maybe five thousand a hand or something. Depends, we?ll have to see how it goes.?

You?ll find Pai Gow in the Dragon Room …. Texas Hold ?Em out front…

George Hardie Sr.
?I play poker sometimes, but I play in the States with a little higher limits.?

…and just about every themed slot machine in between. The slots have a special feature … TITO … which means customers don?t have to lug around little buckets of tokens.

George Hardie Sr.
?They can put money in the bill accepter and it will give them credits or they can get a ticket at the cage. You put the ticket in and it shows your credit and then when your playing, you don?t like this machine, you just cancel out, get your ticket out, with whatever credit on there and they are good on any machine. You can choose your machine without any fuss.?

Willie De Santos makes sure the machines are working in tip top shape.

Willie De Santos, Slot Manager, Las Vegas Casino
?I?ve been with the gaming industry in Las Vegas for twenty-five years. So we brought the Las Vegas technology and the Las Vegas customer service here. We are proud to be here.?

Janelle Chanona
?What do you think is the most impressive thing when people walk in … is it machines … is it the entire picture … what do you like best about this??

Willie De Santos, Slot Manager, Las Vegas Casino
?I?ve noticed that when they come in, the first night here te first impression is like, they have a big WOW on their face. You see our ceiling with the big chandelier on top, and its one of a kind in Central America.?

The facility currently includes a food court … seated restaurant … and cocktail bar. Behind the scenes, approximately three hundred employees keep the operations up and running.

In the casino kitchen, Corozalena Marilyn Garcia uses state of the art technology to whip up her favourite culinary creations.

Marilyn Garcia, Baker?s Assistant
?I love to cook … I love to learn lots of things not only the pastries, also food. The more you learn, the better it is for me.?

Abdi Obando is chief waiter in the restaurant.

Abdi Obando, Chief Waiter
?It?s a great opportunity to work here at this company. I think it will be one of Belize?s finest dining room. I?ve been in other places like Radisson, other big restaurants but this is fully loaded. It has everything for us, complete service for staff. It?s very big privilege.?

Abdi might be privileged … but Franciso Cawich gets the count all the money.

Francisco Cawich, Counter
?We love the job, we loved to do that.?

Janelle Chanona

Francisco Cawich
?We see the money everyday.?

And just in case you get any ideas, security comes complete with bullet-proof glass and something called a man trap.

George Hardie
?You open that door, you can?t get through that door until that door is shut so in words you know who?s in here, cause there?s a camera.?

In fact, there are a lot of cameras … that monitor everything in just about every corner of the casino.

George Hardie Sr.
?We look forward to being here a long time and doing a good job, also providing customer service for our neighbours to participate here. But it has been a long haul, it hasn?t been exceptionally easy. People should come and have a good time. Not over bet but just enjoy themselves. They can come and use the restaurant, the bar or the shows, they don?t have to gamble we provide entertainment for people and we don?t want people to bet too much. We have a lot of penny slot machines, so they can have a lot of fun for very little money.?

According to Hardie later this month, his contractors will start driving piles for a five story hotel. That building is scheduled to be completed next year.

Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

The Las Vegas Casino is located between the northern border checkpoint and the Commercial Free Zone in Corozal. Las Vegas is the third casino to open in the area as Princess Entertainment and the Golden Princess also caters to the thousands of Mexican customers visiting the free zone.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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