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Harveys, Harrah’s discuss merger

A preview of consolidation efforts between two Stateline casino competitors took place Monday, with Harrah’s Entertainment management meeting with Harveys Resort & Casino employees to assess how they fit with the blended organization once the merger closes.

The acquisition of Harveys for $675 million in cash and liabilities is expected to culminate today, a pivotal end to a long-standing rivalry in the South Lake Tahoe gambling world.

The environment at Harveys has been described in recent days as operating on pins and needles, as staffers await their future. Some may go, and others may shift to other positions.



It’s undetermined as of press time exactly how many people Harrah’s management met with.

Harveys Executive Secretary Barbara Roberts planned on the elimination of her job of more than six years.



“It seemed likely that if your boss is going, you will go too,” she said.

Her boss is Harveys Senior Vice President of Corporate Marketing Jim Rafferty, who was out of town Monday.

Phone calls to Harveys Executive Vice President Wade Hundley and Director of Marketing Bonnie Picker were unreturned.

When asked of her future plans, Roberts said: “I guess I’ll be standing in the unemployment line with others.”

The Nevada Department of Employment, Training & Rehabilitation has remained on alert, awaiting the influx of casino staffers, spokeswoman Karen Rhodes said. No word was received in the department as of late afternoon.

Rhodes noted the dynamics that go on with these types of layoff situations.

“There are real emotional ramifications to all this. I’m sure the staff is really nervous, asking: ‘Is it going to be me?'” she said.

And those who remain are sometimes left with a sense of guilt that they were spared at the expense of their co-workers, Rhodes said of what’s commonly referred to as survivor’s guilt.

Tahoe-Douglas Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathleen Farrell empathized by summing up the experience with a scene from the dramatic film “Terms of Endearment.”

Shirley MacLain released her anguish after her daughter dies. “You think you’re ready, and you’re not,” she recites in the movie.

Farrell believes “people have the right to mourn” the loss of a job as they would the loss of a loved one.

“I hope they don’t make too drastic a cut,” she said.

Still, the optimistic Farrell expects “everything will settle out” in the end as Harrah’s has appeared to move as fast as it can to quell the uncertainty.

“This isn’t to downplay those who may be experiencing (the loss of their jobs),” she said, adding another scenario that may play out at Stateline.

“I think Marriott will absorb some people,” she said of the international hotel manager’s plans to build two complexes under Heavenly’s Gondola.

Yet, it’s too soon to measure the impact on the local economy of the casino merger.

If the deal goes through as planned today, Harrah’s will own Harveys Casino on the South Shore; Harveys Casino Hotel and the Bluffs Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Harveys Wagon Wheel Hotel/Casino in Central City, Colo. It brings Harrah’s properties to 25 in 12 states.


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