Hard Rock Gambling - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Monday, July 26, 2004

Hard Rock Gambling

The new Fox series the Casino gives viewers a look at the real-life drama that unfolds at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. But you don't have to travel to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to get in on the action. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino opened several months ago, right here in South Florida.

Turn off Route 441 in Hollywood and be prepared to be dazzled. This is the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. A slice of Vegas on the Reservation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

"Most people are surprised when they come in. They're not expecting Las Vegas.

But it's the technology behind the glitz and glamour that's really surprising.  Hard Rock President Doug Pattison unlocks the secrets visitors never see.

What you're looking at are the keys to the casino and all you need is a fingerprint to access the keys. Guess my fingerprint doesn't work. Only authorized personnel with authorized fingerprints can actually get behind the glass. And even then you can bet they'll be observed by the scores of security cameras throughout the complex and in the back of the house. The Security staff monitors guests and staff around the clock.

"From the moment they leave 441 and enter the complex. We become an integral part of their safety and well-being."

The cameras tilt and pan, can circle 360-degrees and can zoom in. No movement goes undetected. The cameras also keep a close eye on the life-blood of the casino: the cash. Here. It's treated as a commodity. Like food and beverages. Unless it turns up missing. But with the intense security measures in place, I'm told, that's not very likely.

The heart of the Hard Rock is its 130,000 square foot casino with more than 2,000 electronic gaming machines and 40 poker tables. Poker is a big draw here and its more popular with women than men. There is no blackjack, craps or roulette, which are illegal under state law. The beverages flow freely in the casino but even at the bar, technology is king.

The alcohol supply is kept in a secure back room where it flows through tubing to the various bars.

"These pumps right behind you, pump it through 1800 feet of line, which gets to all of our bars."

It took 87 cases of liquor to prime these lines. At the bar itself. a computer program then automatically blends the liquors to make the perfect drink every time. A check of the loading dock gives us a taste of the sheer volume of beverages consumed during just one weekend.

"The meats are all aged here on the premises and the pastries are made right here, some 3,000 desserts each day. The kitchens are state-of-the-art and they are spotless."

Of the 6 restaurants here at the Hard Rock, the employee dining room serves more meals than any other--more than 2,000 meals a day. Let's take a look. Chicken marsala. Fried fish. Pizza. Clam chowder. Make-your-own-sandwich and a salad bar. The staff of 2500 happily eats as well as the guests.

"We were looking for people with big smiles. I call it big attitudes."

And all those big attitudes have to be fitted with uniforms. Technology comes to the rescue again. An employee I.D card automatically sets conveyor belts in action and unlocks a door for access. Employees can also put their personal belongings back on the rack for safe-keeping. Technology also helps the housekeeping staff. Computer systems make it possible to clean and prepare any of the 500-rooms in the hotel within a half-hour of a guest's departure.

The Hard Rock hopes to be known as a destination, a resort where guests can enjoy the water activities and the restaurants as well as the casino. The Hard Rock isn't done. Retail stores and a new concert hall are expected to open later this year. Once complete, the Hard Rock expects to take in as much as 450-million dollars a year.

The profits benefit members of the Seminole Indian Tribe. Once they lived in near-poverty but because of gambling income, each Seminole, including children, now receives $42,000 a year plus free health care and college tuition.

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