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  Aug 6, 1998

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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

WWF buys Las Vegas hotel

 LAS VEGAS (AP-STAFF) -- The World Wrestling Federation, saying it wants to move into the gaming and themed-restaurant business, has purchased the bankrupt Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino for $9 million.

Reynolds, 66, a movie star for half a century, stood in the back of a dimly-lit casino and showed little emotion Wednesday as an auctioneer coaxed the bidding up from an opening figure of $5 million.

Afterward, Reynolds appeared upset by the final igure. "They bought a property for $9 million that was worth $22 million," she said.

Ed Kaufman, senior vice president and general counsel for the World Wrestling Federation, said the purchase of the hotel would mark his company's entry into the Las Vegas market.

"We plan to extend the brand identification of the World Wrestling Federation into the hotel-casino gaming business and themed restaurants," Kaufman said.

"Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world and definitely our audience," said WWF president Vince McMahon in a press release.

"Through our worldwide television network which is seen in over 115 countries and in 11 languages, we will promote the World Wrestling Federation Hotel & Casino as well as Las Vegas as nobody else can. Our theme hotel, casino and restaurant will attract our fans not only from the United States and Canada, but also from around the world as well. WWF events over the past two years have drawn fans to the United States from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, England, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan and Switzerland."

McMahon is confident that the hotel and casino is a logical expansion of the WWF brand. It is a new venue in which to entertain our fans and have them participate. We are anxious to get the plans developed for renovation of the property and to inject some WWF attitude into Las Vegas.

The sale is subject to bankruptcy court approval.

Reynolds, who is best known for her lead role in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," in which she survives the sinking of the Titanic, bought the Paddlewheel Hotel east of the Las Vegas Strip in 1992. She spent millions remodeling before opening a year later with a theater where she performed and a museum for her memorabilia.

"This is a sad ending to a lot of hard work and special dreams," Reynolds said earlier as she meandered through a small casino area. "This represents a long six years of hard work and dedication and love."

Last year, the hotel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a move that forced Reynolds to take personal bankruptcy as well.