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Mike moore may be a betting man, but even he wouldn't have wagered that a patch of Connecticut woods would quickly become the site of the largest-grossing casino in the country.

"It's the craziest thing we ever saw," says the 53-year-old VPcasino marketing for Foxwoods Resort Casinos. "When the property opened, it only planned to operate 16 hours a day and had 1,800 employees."

Now, gaming goes on day and night, the worker total has risen to 10,000, and "we just keep pouring cement and building buildings."

Despite a new competing casino just 10 miles away, Foxwoods' piece of the action just keeps getting bigger. For example, on the day last October when the Mohegan Sun Casino opened, Foxwoods set a record for attendance and posted its third-highest-ever slot win: $2.94 million.

Mr. Moore focused Foxwoods' attention on non-gaming aspects like hotel rooms, restaurants and entertainment-as well as engendering customer loyalty through frequent-player programs.

Generous advertising hasn't hurt, either. Foxwoods uses broadcast and cable TV, magazines, newspapers and outdoor to bring in the players, Mr. Moore says.

Total media expenditure for 1996 was about $12 million; Foxwoods' agency is Weller, O'Sullivan, Zuckerman & Lightcap, New York.

Mr. Moore's understanding of how to rope them in may come from his grass-roots perspective. In an industry where management is getting crowded with accountants and MBAs, Mr. Moore has been involved in casino operations and marketing since the mid-1960s. He started as a dealer and has worked for some of the biggest names in the business, including Harrah's, Golden Nugget, MGM, Circus Circus and Caesar's Palace, where he had a slot on the marketing committee.

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