Nouveau bleu at Caesars |

Nouveau bleu at Caesars

Susan Wood

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Caesars Tahoe is undergoing a major renovation on its casino floor to accommodate a new look and new name in the coming year. The first phase is expected to be completed by Christmas.

STATELINE – With the first phase of a major renovation expected to be done by Christmas, Caesars Tahoe is well under way into making interior transitions.

While the casino’s name – Mont Bleu – won’t officially be changed until March, the first phase involves the replacement of 35 table games and 1,100 slot machines in an area that includes a bar designed to be the casino’s focal point, said casino General Manager Kim Sumimoto.

“It’s pretty exciting. Our bars have always been on the perimeter,” she said.

Players can expect to see the same ratio of poker, blackjack and roulette tables, but they’ll also see more ticketed slots – many of them taking penny allotments.

Installing penny slots is a growing gaming trend because users find they can play longer on their gaming dollar, Sumimoto said. She doesn’t recall any such large-scale remodel at the casino in the 21 years she’s worked there.

The sports book will remain as an operation run by Cal Neva of Incline Village – a change that occurred when the Columbia Sussex $45 million transaction was finalized in June.

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The Stateline casino walled off a major center section next to the former Clio’s bar on its gaming floor to remodel that will affect the area from floor to ceiling. Visitors can be found winding their way through a maze of hallways and signs announcing the emergence of Mont Bleu – French for blue mountain. Its main sign is expected to go up in March.

“There’s so much to do because this place is so themed,” Sumimoto said.

Caesars has a Roman theme throughout the property. A statue of the emperor now greets people in the Highway 50-facing entrance and Roman pillars dot the floor. These will be removed by the end of the year.

The build-up surrounding the redesign has been hush-hush among corporate executives of the private company.

“It’s going to be totally different. I don’t know if it will necessary be French or not,” Sumimoto said.

As part of a $45 million June buyout from Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment by Columbia Sussex, the Fort Mitchell, Ky., company that owns the Horizon Resort Casino among 80 hotels, resorts and casinos in 28 states pledged to revamp the Caesars casino to appeal to a younger demographic. The customer base has been described as hip and contemporary seeking a place of sophistication.

The American Gaming Association recently reported results of a survey indicating that redesigning resort casinos to appeal to that population subset has been a strong trend in the industry. Over 70 percent of the survey audience consisting of casino executives attending last year’s Global Gaming Expo “believe the industry is, in fact, undergoing a structural change in casino design that targets and appeals to a younger demographic. The consequences of this, particularly for the older customer, are yet to be determined,” the report reads.

According to the industry insiders, the future of signature attractions will also continue to play a role in casino design. Over three quarters of those polled “feel signature attractions (such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris) will be a vital part of the future of casino design.”

“It seems to signal an important shift,” AGA spokeswoman Holly Thomsen said.

Again, how the public will receive these changes remains unclear.

One Caesars regular, Knud Sorensen, said he’ll reserve judgment until he sees what will happen.

“I don’t like change, but I’m resistant to change,” said the Round Hill man, who identified himself as a regular who goes to Caesars about every day.