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September 17, 2012

Prince Harry's naked escapades expose latest Las Vegas makeover

Prince Harry's naked hotel romp in Las Vegas has turned into a marketing opportunity for casinos seeking to spotlight new nightclubs and pools for the growing ranks of tourists seeking fun away from the craps tables.

The prince, third in line to the British throne, spent an August weekend cavorting at MGM Resorts International's Wet Republic "day club," racing U.S. Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte at a late-night swim party and clowning with a young woman — minus his clothing — at Wynn Resorts's Encore. People Magazine put the 27-year-old royal on its Sept. 10 cover and said his suite, equipped with a pool table, cost $5,000 a night.

Harry's wild weekend couldn't have come at a more opportune time for Las Vegas casinos, which face more competition from gambling in other states and have yet to see their businesses recover to pre-recession levels. To counter that, they're spending lavishly on faster-growing non-casino operations, upgrading rooms, pools, bars and restaurants.

"Vegas and Madonna are the same: They know how to reinvent themselves and focus on the trends," said Jonathan Segal, whose New York-based The One Group will manage the Bagatelle Beach & Nightclub opening next month at the Tropicana Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. "You can game on the Internet, game on the reservations and in lot of U.S. states. So what does Vegas do? They say, 'OK we're going to turn this into the greatest party city in the world.' "

Next door, MGM Grand is building Hakkasan, a five-story restaurant and disco that will be among largest nightclubs on the Strip. Caesars Entertainment is putting up Linq, an outdoor promenade with a 550-foot Ferris wheel dubbed the High Roller. It's one of two under construction on the Strip. Bagatelle, featuring a complex of pools and volleyball courts, will have its own entrance on Tropicana Boulevard.

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