Harrah’s Entertainment, the world’s largest provider of branded casino entertainment, said Friday it has commenced an initial public offering of 31.25 million shares of common stock to be traded under a new name.

The casino giant, which initially announced its plan to go public last month, has applied to have the shares listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol CZR, or the Caesars Entertainment Corporation.

Harrah’s, which estimates an offering price in the range of $15 to $17 a share, has granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 4,687.5 thousand shares of stock under the same terms and conditions.

The company, which operates primarily under the property names Harrah’s, Caesars and Horseshoe, said it plans to use proceeds from the offering to fund a near-term growth projects and general corporate purposes, including dining and entertainment development when demand warrants at some of its existing casinos.

Some already planned projects include updates at the Flamingo and Imperial Palace resorts in Las Vegas and the completion of a 660-room hotel tower at Caesars Las Vegas.

Following the offering, Harrah’s, which also owns the World Series of Poker and the London Clubs International family of casinos, said there would still be some 337 million shares outstanding.

The announcement comes two years after Harrah's was taken private by private-equity companies TPG and Apollo Management in a $27.8 billion leveraged buyout.

Meanwhile, the company reported Friday a narrowed third-quarter loss to $164.8 million from a loss of $1.62 billion in the same quarter last year.

Revenue for the period ended Sept. 30 gained slightly to $2.29 billion, due partially to the company’s February purchase of Planet Hollywood.

Harrah’s said the lingering recession has continued to weigh down its earnings, an issue all casinos have seen since the onslaught of the economic downturn as consumers shied away from leisure spending.

“Although visitation also increased slightly in certain markets, including Las Vegas, and there are signs consumer spending may be stabilizing, we're continuing to exercise cost discipline while pursuing innovative ways to provide rewarding customer experiences,” said Gary Loveman, Harrah’s chief executive.

“We have targeted $129 million in additional expense reductions for the 2010 fourth quarter,” he said.