Robert Boughner, CEO of the Borgata

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, July 2, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The long-awaited Borgata casino (search) is set to open for business in Atlantic City, New Jersey. With some 2,000 rooms and a 50,000- square-foot spa, this Vegas-style gambling palace has earned bragging rights as the biggest hotel in the Northeast.

The Borgata’s expected to give a must-needed boost to Atlantic City and cater to a gambler’s every desire. But is it itself a big gamble?

Here’s the man behind it all, Robert Boughner, the CEO of the Borgata.

Robert, good to have you. Thanks for coming.


CAVUTO: Is this out-Taj-ing the Taj Mahal?

BOUGHNER: Well, you know, that was not really our goal or objective. Our goal at Borgata was simply to build the next generation of property in Atlantic City.

For the last 13 years we’ve seen a real dry spell in Atlantic City in terms of new development. During that same 13-year period, we’ve seen over $7 billion worth of development in Las Vegas.

It was time for a new property here, and the $1.1-billion Borgata, we believe, represents that time.

CAVUTO: So what’s different about this?

I understand that you really tried to pay attention to customers’ and gamblers’ interests. You got rid of a lot of the loud colors. You have a lot of soft, cushy chairs in the gambling parlors, what have you. No tubs. Just very, very elaborate showers, the reason that a lot of people spend time in those bathrooms.

And I’m just surprised whether there’s the appetite for this in an iffy kind of Atlantic City. What do you say?

BOUGHNER: Well, Atlantic City is very fortunate. It’s enjoyed 26 years of consecutive year-over-year growth, albeit a modest year in 2001 and 2002.

Having said that, the 30-million adults that live within a couple of hour drives from Atlantic City, we believe, are underserved. This marketplace will enjoy, over the course of the next several years, we believe, some double-digit growth, something it hasn’t seen in a few years.

Our industry is largely a supply-driven industry. That’s where the growth comes from.

CAVUTO: But are you worried that now with the recent budget battles going on in New Jersey, they’ve got this hike in casino taxes, that just as you’re, you know, planning this big debut, you’ve got a bottom-line whammy to consider.

BOUGHNER: Well, it was certainly something that we had not contemplated when we started the development, but we believe, at the end of the day, a reasonable compromise was achieved, and we’re moving forward in a very positive spirit.

CAVUTO: So, in other words, it could have been worse on you, but the tax doesn’t seem that onerous?

BOUGHNER: That’s correct. It was certainly nothing we anticipated, but, by the same token, we have a lot of confidence in the product we’ve developed and a lot of confidence in the 5,000 people that work here. So we’re moving forward in a very positive way.

CAVUTO: Robert, are you booked solid, or how would you describe it.

BOUGHNER: Our reservations are off to a great start. It’s very important...

CAVUTO: How great?

BOUGHNER: How great? Well, we’re not quantifying for public information, but we have met every expectation that we had in terms of advanced bookings.

What I will tell you is that we have about $26 million worth of convention business already booked at Borgata, and, as we go through the summer, we anticipate hitting the mark every week.

CAVUTO: OK. Robert Boughner, thank you very much.

The CEO of Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

BOUGHNER: Thanks. Thanks very much.

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