For Magliarditi, new beginning brings familiar challenges

In his new job as president of the Palms, Joe Magliarditi sees some obvious reminders of his earlier experiences.

The Rio, where he got his start in gaming in the 1990s, was the prototypical casino with a visitors/locals marketing split. The M Resort, which he opened as chief operating officer, was designed explicitly to capture parts of both markets as well. And in his time as president of the Hard Rock—which ended abruptly when new ownership forced a regime change earlier this year—Magliarditi made a concerted effort to attract locals while trying to revive the property’s flagging finances.

“I walked into a situation where the property … was not doing well,” he says. “We rebuilt almost the entire management team, we implemented [new] policies and procedures and controls. Honestly, it was more rewarding than opening up a new casino, primarily because of the tremendous staff there.”

Unlike the Hard Rock, which had a Sword of Damocles of debt hanging over its head, the Palms has already restructured its debt. That means that Magliarditi is free to do what the Palms’ new majority owners—Leonard Green and TPG Capital—and chairman and founder George Maloof want him to do: Grow the business.

In not-quite-post-recession Las Vegas, that’s a bold charge. But Magliarditi says we’ll see some immediate capital investment at the Palms and a freshening of the property. The team is now planning a renovation for the original Palms Tower, and over the next three months, he’ll be evaluating the casino’s restaurants and nightclubs, seeing what needs to be improved.

“A year from now,” he says, “you’ll see a much-improved asset in respect to the hotel rooms and food and beverage offerings.”

Magliarditi sees the Palms as growing both its local base—which is primarily drawn by good slots and F&B bargains—and the out-of-town base, which is drawn to celebrity.

And how will Magliarditi work with Maloof, who knows a few things about courting celebrity guests?

“George is going to stay involved with the casino, primarily from the strategic side. We have committed to each other that I will handle the day-to-day, but it’s beneficial to have a person like George to bounce things off. He built the place, and he knows what makes it tick. In the few weeks I’ve been here, we’ve really connected.”

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