Harrah's to Enter Europe With Two Large-Scale Resorts

Las Vegas -- Harrah's Entertainment, the world's largest gaming company, plans to enter Europe with large-scale, high-end resorts, one each in Spain and Slovenia, as part of a broader effort to create an international presence.

The company today announced a joint-venture to develop a 29-acre resort under its premier Caesars brand in Ciudad Real, about 120 miles south of Madrid. Anticipated as Spain's first large-scale resort, the project includes an 850-room luxury hotel, conference center, 3,000-seat theater, casino, spa, restaurants, and lounges. In addition, a retail center is planned adjacent to the casino, and three golf courses are to be developed nearby.

Part of a planned community in the Castile-La Mancha region, the $670-million project is expected to break ground late next year. Harrah's gave no completion date in its statement.

Yesterday, Harrah's announced it signed a letter of intent for a joint-venture to develop Slovenia's first large-scale resort, to be located in Nova Gorica, less than 100 miles from Venice on the Italian border. The $700-million project includes an 800-1,200-room luxury hotel, 50,000-square-foot convention center, 3,000-seat theater, casino, spa, and dining, entertainment and retail space.

Harrah's said is it is considering several sites for the project. It gave no start or completion dates.

The joint-venture in Spain is with El Reino de Don Quijote de La Mancha, S.A., which is developing other parts of the El Reino planned community, in Ciudad Real. The intended Slovenia joint-venture is with the Hit Group, a Slovenian company that already operates eight casinos in the country. Harrah's has a 60-40 majority interest in the first joint-venture, and intends to take a 50-50 interest in the second.

The announcements mark an ambitious new phase of Harrah's planned international expansion. Earlier in November, Harrah's agreed to a joint-venture with Baha Mar Resorts and Starwood Hotels to develop a 1,000-acre beachfront resort with the largest casino in the Bahamas.

Harrah's operates nearly 40 casino properties in North America.