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Gaming adds air incentive for super high rollers

HOLLYWOOD — With a unanimous Council vote June 13, super high rollers worldwide will get VIP travel treatment to and from Seminole Tribe of Florida casinos on a new luxury Gulfstream G550 aircraft.

Called “whales,” gamblers in the elite category play with extraordinary amounts of money. Some can spend several million dollars in one weekend.

According to Seminole Gaming estimates, Tribal investment in the $51.5-million aircraft could bring about $16 million per year into Tribe coffers.

John Eder, senior vice president of finance for Seminole Gaming, said if the program does not succeed, the Tribe can sell the aircraft and recoup the money.

Casinos that already offer jet travel as high roller perks include the MGM Grand Casino, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa and the Venetian, the No. 1 ranked gaming company in the world, Eder said.

Purchase of the 12-seat Gulfstream aircraft will allow the Tribe to compete with the casinos.

“Gaming is so proliferated that you can game anywhere you want in the world, so you have to have some marketing tool in order to bring people in,” Eder said. “This is a marketing tool.”

The Tribe will put 10 percent down and finance the remaining at a 1.9 percent interest rate over five years. The aircraft will be housed at the Big Cypress Reservation.

Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is expected to bring in at least 88 high rollers per year.

“The goal is for us to make money. Period,” Eder said.