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Gary W. Loveman

president & ceo, harrah's entertainment, inc.

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Gary Loveman addresses the Chief Executives’ Club of Boston.

Harrahs CEO pitches casinos to businesses, lawmakers

The head of Harrah's Entertainment Inc. yesterday urged Boston business leaders and legislators to bring casinos to the Bay State, arguing the addition would bring millions of dollars in revenue to Massachusetts.

Gary Loveman, CEO of the multimillion-dollar corporation, said in a speech to the Boston College Chief Executives Club that Harrah's would like to build casinos in the state, possibly on the Suffolk Downs racetrack campus, which he said has enough space for a hotel and entertainment facility. Loveman said he knows he has a skeptical audience.

“This is not a blue-collar, downtrodden, customer base who seeks desperately to entertain themselves through a casino,” he said at the Boston Harbor Hotel. Harrah's owns 28 casinos in 12 states across the country.

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(Clockwise, far right) Jack Connors (Chairman, Hill Holiday), Bob Kraft (Owner, New England Patriots), Chad Gifford (Chairman, Bank of America), Cathy Minehan (President, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston), Pat Purcell (President, Herald Media), Fr. Leahy (President, Boston College), Ted Kelly (Chairman, Liberty Mutual), Ron Sargent (President, Staples), Al Verrecchia (CEO, Hasbro), and Bob Popeo (Chairman, Mintz Levin) listen to Mr. Loveman's speech.

“We're prepared to invest hundreds of millions of dollars, and we always end up paying taxes.” Interestingly enough, particularly here in Puritan New England, that offer seems to be poorly received.

Loveman, who has taught at Harvard Business School, said Massachusetts residents flock to Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut and argued that Boston-area residents would want a closer location. He sought to dispel what he contends are misconceptions about the gaming industry, saying only 2 percent of Harrahs customers are susceptible to compulsive gambling and that most of the customers are older, educated people.

Political leaders have opposed casinos in the past, arguing they would compete with the Massachusetts State Lottery.

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(Left-right) Al Verrechia, Gary Loveman, Bob Kraft, Bob Popeo, and Jack Connors mingle in the Boston Harbor Wharf Room.

“The lottery rakes in $800 million a year, which is pure oxygen to our economy, and the state is desperately dependent on it,” said former House speaker Thomas Finneran, who attended the luncheon.

Deputy Treasurer Doug Rubin said Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill does not want casinos in Massachusetts, mostly because they could threaten the state’s lottery, which provides more than $700 million in aid to cities and towns.

Article by Janette Neuwahl
Boston Globe
Friday, January 21, 2005