Seminole Tribe's Hard Rock gambling empire beats back competition, going global quickly
Some of the 800 Vegas-style slot machines installed at the Hard Rock casino near Tampa last year. Photo by Willie J. Allen Jr., Tampa Bay Times.
Wake up and good morning. Don't look now but the Seminole Indian Tribe and its Hard Rock Casino empire (2009 revenues of $2 billion and growing) is expanding rapidly -- far beyond the I-4 Hard Rock gambling site just east of Tampa (where it plans to add 300 to 500 more rooms to the 250-room Hard Rock Tampa) and way, way beyond the Tribe's home turf in South Florida.
It's doubly meaningful that the Seminoles are on the march because they apparently played a big role -- spending hundreds of thousands of lobbying dollars and teaming with a most unusual partner: Walt Disney Co. -- in defeating the recent effort by Malaysia's Genting Group and others to win Las Vegas-style destination gambling in South Florida.
These insights and whole lot more news about Hard Rock expansion plans globally appear in this lengthy Las Vegas Review-Journal story by writer Howard Stutz based on his interview with Tony Sanchez Jr. (photo, left), chairman of the Seminole Tribe's board of directors. Some business highlights from that story:
* The tribe now owns more than 130 Hard Rock Cafes worldwide, including two in Las Vegas.
* The NYY Steak restaurant at Coconut Creek (south Florida) is a joint venture between the Seminoles and the New York Yankees. The original NYY restaurant is next door to Yankee Stadium in New York.
* The tribe own more than a dozen hotels in four states and seven countries. Seven new Hard Rock hotels are under construction in seven countries including Dubai, Mexico, Hungary and the United Arab Emirates.
* The tribe owns all of the Hard rock's gaming operations except in Las Vegas. And Sanchez, in the Review-Journal story, suggests that relationship is about to change. The tribe is reportedly "open" to working with the Hard Rock Las Vegas which is owned by Canadian hedge fund Brookfield Asset Management.
Smells like just the beginning. Not bad for a tribe with all of 3,700 members.
-- Robert Trigaux, Business Columnist, Tampa Bay Times