Harrah’s Changes Name

The world’s largest casino company changed its name Tuesday to Caesars Entertainment Corp., completing a move it first announced just as the industry began deep and prolonged economic struggles.

The privately held company formerly known as Harrah’s Entertainment Inc. said Harrah’s would continue to be one of the company’s brands, along with Caesars, Horseshoe, Total Rewards and the World Series of Poker.

The change directly aligns the corporation with its most famous casino, the iconic Caesars Palace on the Las Vegas Strip. The company also has Caesars casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Windsor, Ontario, and uses the name for online gambling sites in the United Kingdom.

The company operates 16 casinos around the country under the Harrah’s brand.

The name change comes days after Harrah’s canceled plans for an initial public offering. If it had sold the shares in the midpoint of its intended range, it would have raised $469.4 million after expenses.

The company owns or manages 52 casinos in 12 U.S. states and six other countries. It has 70,000 employees and had revenue of $8.9 billion in 2009.

Gary Loveman, Caesars’ chief executive, said Tuesday that the new name opens opportunities for the company. In April 2008, when the company first said it intended to change its name, Loveman said the new moniker would bring “greater prestige” to the company and help it attract business partners.

Loveman said Tuesday that Caesars is the “world’s pre-eminent and most respected casino brand.”

“The change reflects our evolution as the industry’s leading provider of branded casino entertainment,” he said.

Company spokeswoman Jan Jones said the move cost less than $1 million and was timed to coincide with the company moving beyond its toughest struggles.

“We were looking for a time when we really felt we had made it through the most difficult times of the economic downturn, where we could really talk about our vision going forward,” Jones said. “We’ve reformulated our businesses to both survive the economic downturn and put us into a position to be very successful as the economy begins to turn.”

Harrah’s and its industry have suffered as the economic downturn limited tourists’ spending on gambling and other entertainment, food and lodging at casinos and resorts.

Its revenue dropped from $10.8 billion in 2007, and is tracking below 2009 levels at $6.7 billion for the first nine months of 2010.

While Harrah’s turned a profit of $472.8 million in 2009 by cutting expenses 30 percent, it has lost $634.4 million through the first three quarters this year.

The money from the canceled stock offering was supposed to go to several projects, including a dining and entertainment area linking the Imperial Palace and Flamingo casino-resorts on the east side of the Las Vegas Strip, and a still-unfinished hotel tower at Caesars Palace.

The company also has a potential joint venture development in Ohio, an opportunity in Pennsylvania and wants to expand its online gambling offerings, which today include casino, poker and bingo games in the United Kingdom.

Jones said the company renamed its golf course in Macau after Caesars, and is looking to expand its opportunities in Europe and Asia.