The New Guy

Belterra’s new GM
Uboldi sets new course for casino

Ben Fronczek
Staff Writer

(January 2002) Switzerland Co., Ind. – Faced with a slow economy, sluggish tourism and winter setting in, officials at Switzerland County’s premier tourist attraction, Belterra Casino Resort, are rethinking their operational strategies.

Alain Uboldi

Alain Uboldi

Newly hired Vice-President and General Manager Alain Uboldi has been overseeing those changes since coming aboard in December.
Uboldi, who has years of casino management experience, says he has some specific goals in mind for Belterra’s future.
“This company has decent revenues but doesn’t make any profit,” said Uboldi, 55. “But that shouldn’t be too hard to turn around.”
The 15-story hotel and 38,000-square-foot casino, owned by Pinnacle Entertainment in Glendale, Calif., opened 14 months ago. It has attracted visitors from all over the region, while sponsoring festivals and sporting events and playing host to celebrity concerts in its 1,500-seat showroom.
Having only been at Belterra a few weeks, Uboldi is still becoming acquainted with the area. In a Dec. 20 interview, he discussed his vision for Belterra’s future. It included several initiatives:
n The marketing department will be revamped to be more financially efficient. This will include cutting back promotional spending and being more selective on marketing strategies. Uboldi said Belterra spends twice as much in marketing dollars as other casinos. Past promotion has been centered in Louisville and Lexington, Ky.; Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, and Indianapolis.
“Our plan is to concentrate on Louisville, Lexington and Cincinnati,” Uboldi said.
n There will be fewer employees. Over the past two years, Belterra has employed many foreign workers. Those jobs will be cut and filled by current staff. Uboldi said his emphasis is on keeping the workforce local.
n Uboldi said Belterra is committed as title sponsor of Kentucky Speedway’s “Belterra-Indy 300” Indy Racing League event in August 2002. Belterra has not yet committed to continuing for a third year as the Madison Regatta title sponsor. Nor has the casino landed a professional golf event at Belterra’s new 18-hole golf course. Uboldi said he had spoken with area tourism officials about participating in collaborative marketing efforts.
“Our goal is to be not only a very good operation but a good citizen with surrounding counties,” said Uboldi.
n The 15-year-old Ogle Haus will re-open as a hotel and restaurant. Two years ago, Hollywood Park, Pinnacle Entertainment’s predecessor, bought the Ogle Haus for use as short-term lodging for Belterra staff during construction. Belterra officials originally planned to re-open it as a hotel and restaurant at a later date, but that goal was short lived when the building became permanent housing for Belterra’s international employees. Uboldi has announced plans to re-open all 54 rooms of the hotel by March and is currently negotiating with three potential prospects about leasing restaurant space.
“We feel fairly confident we can fill it up,” he said. “The property seems to be very attractive to businesses. We have a lot of bus tours and so much demand over the weekend that we can put our overflow here.”
Opening the Ogle Haus came as welcome news to officials in Switzerland County and Vevay.
“We’ve really missed it the last couple of years,” said Ann Mulligan, director of the Switzerland County Welcome Center. “We’ve had people come in all the time asking about the Ogle Haus. We need it.”
Uboldi, himself, brings a wealth of experience to Belterra. Originally from Monte Carlo, he worked for the auditing firm of Peat Marwick-Mitchell in Paris for five years before going on to work as the No. 2 man for the SBM Casino in Monte Carlo.
In 1980, he came to America to serve as Executive Vice-President and Assistant General Manager for the Playboy Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. He was also with the Regine Discothek and Restaurant chain and then the Lady Luck Casino in Las Vegas. He was with that latter casino for 18 years and served as President and CEO until it was sold to the Isle of Capri Co.
Uboldi is temporarily staying at the Ogle Haus but plans to find a residence in the area next summer. His wife, Tania, and 7-year-old son, Alexandre (the French spelling of Alexander), are still living in Las Vegas but will soon join him. He has two other sons from a previous marriage, Cyril, 30, who lives in Las Vegas, and Fabrice, 23, in Monte Carlo.
“My meetings and conversation with him have been very positive,” said Mike Jones, president of the Switzerland County Council who originally helped to bring the casino to the county. “I think he very much wants to become involved with the community, particularly county government, and we’re looking forward to that.”

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