The Strip’s New York-New York, home to a faux Statue of Liberty and a scaled-down version of the Brooklyn Bridge, soon will house an 18-foot-tall replica of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and other over-sized candy brands.

Hershey’s released details last week of the planned Hershey’s Chocolate World that will occupy 13,000 square feet inside New York-New York.

The project is part of a $100 million retail, dining and entertainment district being developed by MGM Resorts International along the Strip and between the company’s New York-New York and Monte Carlo resorts.

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The two-story, interactive all-things-Hershey candy attraction will be the company’s second largest Chocolate World. It will be dwarfed only by Hershey’s 150,000-square-foot flagship attraction at its Hershey, Pa., headquarters, which includes theme park-type rides.

The Strip’s Hershey’s Candy World will be the ninth such facility worldwide and fourth in the U.S. Attractions are also in New York City’s Time’s Square, Chicago, Canada, Dubai, China and Singapore.

Tourism up a tad

Las Vegas tourism numbers rose half a percent in April.

April visitation rose to 3.34 million visitors this year from April 2012’s 3.32 million, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reported.

Year-to-date, Las Vegas visitation is down a slight 0.3 percent, to 13.04 million visitors from last year’s 13.08 million.

Citywide occupancy year-over-year ticked up 0.6 points to 84.3 percent from 2012’s 83.7 percent at this time. Month-over-month, there’s only a slight uptick this year, with 87 percent occupancy compared with 86.5 percent last year.

Hotel occupancy in April was 89.6 percent, flat compared with April 2012. April’s motel occupancy was up to 63.7 percent this year, compared with last year’s 59.7 percent.

Weekend occupancy was up to 95.3 percent this April compared with April 2012’s 92.7 percent, and weekday stays were down month-over-month to 83.9 percent from last year’s 84.2 percent.

The average daily room rate in April was $115.90, up from April 2012’s $108.42. Year-to-date, the average daily room rate is up to $112.65 from last year’s $109.48.

In stark contrast with last month’s numbers, overall convention attendance this year is edging up.

April’s convention attendance rose a healthy 15.1 percent to 477,275 people compared with April 2012’s attendance of 414,510. Year-over-year, convention attendance is up 3.8 percent, to 2.12 million people from 2012’s total of 2.04 million people.

Sports bar bets off

The ability of a sports fan at almost any tavern in Nevada to get up from their burger, fries and beer and wander across the bar to wager on a football game or the fifth race at Hollywood Park is quickly coming to an end.

As of July 1, sports betting kiosks will be banned from bars, taverns and other establishments holding a restricted gaming license. Gov. Brain Sandoval on June 3 signed Senate Bill 416, meaning the removal of 84 kiosks by the end of the month.

The Nevada Resort Association, which represents many of the major casinos in Las Vegas lobbied for the bill’s passage, arguing sports betting kiosks blurred the line between nonrestricted gaming, such as casinos with 250-room hotels, and restricted locations such as bars and taverns that are limited to 15 slot machines.

Boyd takes NASCAR name

Boyd Gaming Corp., the primary sponsor of the annual NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Las Vegas, will now be reflected in the name.

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway announced Thursday the race will be named the Boyd Gaming 300 beginning in 2014. The race had been known as the Sam’s Town 300. Sam’s Town is owned by Boyd Gaming.

Pinnacle buys rival

Pinnacle Entertainment secured almost $3 billion in financing needed to complete its $2.8 buyout of rival regional gaming operator Ameristar Casinos.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Las Vegas-based Pinnacle said more than a dozen investment banks and institutions have committed the financing for the buyout, which would double the company’s size.

Caesars expands poker

Caesars Interactive Entertainment announced it was forming a social poker development studio to expand the free-to-play World Series of Poker game through its Playtika division.

The Montreal-based subsidiary of Caesars Entertainment, which owns the World Series of Poker brand, will add a social gaming format of the tournament to its free-to-play slot machine, casino game and bingo franchises.

Caesars acquired Playtika a few years ago to expand its social gaming platform.

A Montreal-based team of 19 employees will form the core of Caesars Interactive’s studio. The plan is to expand and enhance the features and functionality of the current World Series of Poker game.

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More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.

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