Harrah’s, Atlantic City Hope to Become ‘gay friendly’ Destinations
Harrah’s Entertainment has been committed to creating a diverse, inclusive environment for employees, guests and communities for some time now. As the only gaming organization to obtain a perfect score on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index Harrah’s is committed to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Harrah’s recently received HRC’s Best Place to work for LGBT Equality.
Harrah’s Entertainment has endorsed the passage of a Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act to ensure that no employee in the United States may be fired for their sexual orientation or gender expression. This year Harrah’s Entertainment is a major sponsor of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The Harrah’s Foundation was also a sponsor of this year’s Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Awards (GLAAD) held in Los Angeles and televised on the Bravo Network.
So what’s next? The world’s largest casino company will begin courting gay and lesbian travelers in hopes of attracting new customers to a market decimated by the recession and competition from Pennsylvania slot parlors.
The push to establish Atlantic City as a “gay friendly” town not only underscores the need to expand the customer base, but also reflects a shift in the cultural landscape, said Jennifer Weissman, regional vice president of marketing for Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.
“We believe our customer base comes from all cultures, all sexual orientations and all backgrounds. We really believe that our customers will embrace this,” she said.
Harrah’s has been catering to gay and lesbian travelers at its Las Vegas casinos for a few years, but will launch a similar campaign in the country’s second-largest gambling market with an “Out in Atlantic City” weekend of partying Sept. 25-27. The event, expected to draw more than 1,000 people, will bring some of the best-known names in the gay and lesbian entertainment scene to the Harrah’s casinos.
Amanda Lepore, a transsexual icon and New York nightlife host, will kick things off with a party Sept. 25 at Club Worship at Showboat Casino Hotel’s House of Blues. The weekend will also include appearances by singer and “Dyke Diva” Lori Michaels and the cast members of Showtime’s lesbian-themed show “The L Word.”
Lance Bass, of ‘N Sync fame, and Jai Rodriguez, of the Bravo Network’s show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” will host a party at Caesars Atlantic City. Rodriguez will also host a game of bingo at Harrah’s Resort, with proceeds benefiting the South Jersey AIDS Alliance.
While Atlantic City may not become the next San Francisco for gay travel, tourism officials believe the resort’s evolution into a more upscale gambling and entertainment hub fits the lifestyle of gay and lesbian customers.
“What the gay market is looking for is high-end retail, accommodation and nightlife, and that’s what we have,” said Jeffrey Vasser, president of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority. “The more we reinforce the fact that Atlantic City is a gay-friendly destination, the better off we will be in attracting that market, which is a very upscale market.”
Separate of the Harrah’s campaign, the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority has reached out to the gay and lesbian community through the gay travel media and by having a promotions booth at a gay-themed consumer show in New York.
In addition, a private, nonprofit organization called the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance was formed recently to promote gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender businesses and people in the surrounding area.
Donald Wittkowski: Press of Atlantic City
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