Clooney plans a different inside job at Vegas casino

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The Independent US

The award-winning actor, and smooth charmer, announced a venture of a rather different nature yesterday - he will be going into the casino-owning business himself, retaining the sophisticated tastes of his on-screen character, Danny Ocean, if not his bent for spectacular criminality.

Mr Clooney, with a prominent nightclub owner called Rande Gerber and two Las Vegas property development companies, unveiled plans to build a relatively intimate casino and resort just a stone's throw from the towers and outlandish architectural extravaganzas along Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as The Strip.

A bit like Steve Wynn, the casino mogul played by Andy Garcia in Ocean's Eleven, Mr Clooney and his friends are determined to push Las Vegas in an upmarket direction. But unlike Mr Wynn, whose ever- more-expensive resorts such as the Bellagio and the Wynn Las Vegas paint themselves on the broadest possible canvas, the new consortium is thinking along more intimate lines.

Their establishment, to be called Las Ramblas after the neighbourhood in the heart of Barcelona, will actively discourage the usual hordes of pasty, overweight Middle Americans who wander the floors of Las Vegas casinos with cups full of 25-cent pieces forlornly hoping for a run of luck.

Instead, as Mr Clooney told The Los Angeles Times: "We will have some sort of dress code so that it will feel like you are walking into a more formal Las Vegas of a different age, of a classic Monte Carlo casino."

The venture, first aired in the gossip columns a month ago but only formally unveiled yesterday, arrives in the middle of Las Vegas's umpteenth property boom. While economic cycles ebb and flow in the rest of the United States, Sin City has been on a virtually unstoppable upward curve.

With the Strip itself now all but built out, or at least optioned by the major casino corporations, the new focus is on off-Strip areas such Harmon Avenue, which is where Las Ramblas is expected to break ground some time next year.

There had been rumours that Ocean's Eleven co-stars, notably Brad Pitt, would also come in on the venture.