Tag Archives: gambling

A Bronx Tale Spins in Las Vegas

Chazz Palminteri was sitting on the front stoop of his parents’ apartment block, minding his own business, when shots were fired during a fight over a nearby parking space. A man was murdered right in front of him, and young Palminteri’s life changed forever.

Palminteri used the shocking event as an inspiration and wrote a screenplay called A Bronx Tale about his growing up in world filled with crime, gambling and gangsters. In 1993, the play was made into a movie, directed by and starring Robert De Niro.

Now an Academy Award-nominated actor himself, Palminteri revisits his checkered past in his one-man version of A Bronx Tale at the Venetian Showroom in Las Vegas.

The production sees Palminteri retrace his steps and navigate the rough streets of ’60s-era New York, as he is forced to choose between the law-abiding life of his father and the lifestyle of a local mobster.

Palminteri premiered his production at the Venetian last year, and he brings it back for a second 11-night running now through May 9. 8 p.m., $45.75, dark April 30 and May 7.

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Harrah’s Entertainment Expands Rewards Program to Nongamblers

Each day in Las Vegas tens of thousands people spend oodles of money on nongaming activities.   Knowing this, Harrah’s Entertainment has recently come up with a new revenue enhancing idea- expanding their rewards programs to nongamblers. 

Customers signed up on the programs can now earn a reward point for every dollar spent in stores and restaurants at Harrah’s casinos.  Although the largest chunk of overall casino revenue is generated by gambling, that amount is falling as other segments, including rooms and drinks, is growing at warp speed.

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$5,000-a-spin Slot Machines in Las Vegas

High rollers are not just hanging around at the card tables in Las Vegas anymore. 

Aria in the new CityCenter complex in Las Vegas boasts $5,000 denomination slot machines with a max bet of 1 credit per spin. 

Dig deep and just maybe you too can have a thrill!

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Las Vegas Gamblers Fold ‘Em

Las Vegas visitors reportedly wagered less in 2009 than in previous years- more than $50 less. 

A Las Vegas Visitor Profile released by Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority found the average gambler budgeted about $481 per trip last year. That compares with almost $532 in 2008, more than $555 in 2007 and nearly $652 in 2006. 

Gambling was just the tip of the economic iceberg:  lodging, dining, shows and shopping were also casualties.  The study found hotel spending per night was down 25% in 2009, to about $76; the average cost of a tour package was down 14%, to about $640; and the total spent on restaurants was down 8%, to about $250. Spending on shopping was down 16%, to about $102. Visitors spent an average of about $40 on shows, down 23%.

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Nevada’s $6.8 Billion Casino Loss in ’09 the Largest Ever

As a result of declining gaming revenues, reductions in hotel rates and reduced consumer spending, Nevada’s highest-grossing casinos generated a net loss of almost $6.8 billion in fiscal year 2009- the largest ever for Nevada. 

The huge loss resulted from a total revenue of more than $22 billion including money spent by customers on gaming, hotel rooms, food, beverage and other attractions.

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Gamblin’ in Las Vegas is Human Nature

What does the very popular Austrialian vocal group Human Nature when they’re not performing at Imperial Palace in Las Vegas?  Gamble.   What else?  It’s Sin City! 

Human Nature, who formed as a doo-wop band in 1989 in Sydney, Austraila, has now been performing “The Ultimate Celebration of the Motown Sound” to rave reviews at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas for the past nine months. 

Tight harmonies and rich vocals are what make Human Nature standout in concert. Songs like “Reach Out”; “Just My Imagination”; “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch);” The Jackson Five’s “ABC,” and the group’s moving version of Robinson’s “Ooh Baby, Baby,” are their mainstays.  

Motown music legend Smokey Robinson has acted as their official envoy and presenter of the LasVegas show and its touring production.   Now, it appears that Robinson has switched gears somewhat, gearing up for doing his own shows and promoting his own music including his new CD on his own label, “Time Flies When You’re Having Fun,” which is an album that embraces Robinson’s favorite theme: Love.

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Poker Pro Antes Up Las Vegas World Series of Poker Winnings “For a Song”

A professional poker player and award-winning songwriter, Jason Mershon, has come up with a unique and ambitious plan to promote his new poker song called “Playin’ Poker for a Livin’.” 

In what is believed to be the first offering of its kind, Mershon is planning on entering the 2010 Main Event at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas this summer, and is agreeing to share 50 percent of any Final Table winnings with the first 15,000 people who download and purchase his song at his website: www.playinpokerforalivin.com

“It’s just my way of saying ‘thank you’ to those fans who like my new song,” says Mershon. “I wrote the song to humorously tell what it’s really like being a professional poker player; the sarcastic attitudes of many professional poker players; and the monotony of actually playing poker for a living and grinding out the long hours in a casino card room.” The song itself, “Playin’ Poker for a Livin’,” has already received great reviews from poker players and card room owners alike, who have stated that it’s the best song written about poker in years. 

Mershon has spent most of his life in the entertainment business, and is now a recognized professional poker player in Southern California. He plans to update his progress during the tournament on his Twitter and Facebook page, thus giving people a “virtual seat” at the tournament. 

Since winning two awards at the Los Angeles Music Awards in 2006 for his rock musical, “Rock and Roll Heaven” (aka “Heaven Rocks”) which can be found at www.rnrheavenrocks.com, Jason Mershon has been a regular fixture in the California and Las Vegas poker circuit. 

“I probably spend 90% of my time playing in cash games,” says Mershon, “but I’m also considered a pretty good tournament player as well. So, I don’t want people to think I’m ‘dead money’ in the World Series of Poker,” he laughed. 

“Additionally,” he concluded, “I’m offering a special extended limited edition of my poker song which will only be available to the first 15,000 fans who purchase the song.”

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Super Bowl in Las Vegas Brings Reported $1 Million Bet

Adam Meyer, who has the license plates, “Bet on Me,” on his Bentley, has supposedly been approved for a whopping $1 million Super Bowl bet at the M Resort.

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Super Bowl Betting the Largest Total Ever

Most Super Bowl betting experts predict this year’s Super Bowl to be the biggest in terms of overall traffic and amount of bets placed at the online sportsbooks and in Las Vegas.  

A Las Vegas bookmaker makes the Indianapolis Colts an early four-point favorite to beat the New Orleans Saints in the 2010 Super Bowl and the bookies (both in Las Vegas and online) pushed the line up to -5 ½.  Sportsbetting.com and a few others have moved the line up to Colts -6. 

Sean Van Patten of Las Vegas Sports Consultants recently told the AP that the Colts’ experience on the NFL’s biggest stage (they won Super Bowl XLI three years ago) helped them take the decided edge. 

The total in this Super Bowl, with a number that has remained steady for the most part, is 56 ½, being the highest total ever posted. 

“In the Super Bowl, most people don’t mind if the defense doesn’t show up as much,” Jay Rood, director of the MGM Mirage’s Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas, said in a telephone interview last week with Bloomberg News Friday. “For the most part they like to see a track meet back and forth. This one could deliver.” 

John Avello, the race and sports book director at the Wynn Las Vegas, said he can envision several scenarios that would keep this year’s game from being a high-scoring contest. 

“For the most part I’d believe that the weather will cooperate, but there’s always the chance it won’t,” said Avello, noting that both clubs played their first two playoff games in domed stadiums. “Second, the Colts’ defense is a lot better than people anticipate and the Saints’ defense showed they can get to the quarterback. This game may not be quite the shootout that’s anticipated.” 

“This is clearly the highest total for a Super Bowl we’ve ever had,” said Jay Kornegay, executive director of the Hilton Race and Sports Book. “People like to bet on offense and it’s shaping up to be an offensive game.” 

Despite the high number, nearly 75 percent of those betting the total were still backing the OVER heading going into the contest.

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The Venetian in Las Vegas Adds Aresenal of Pocketcasino Games

More than offering just pocketcasino sports wagering, which Cantor Gaming launched at The Venetian last September, Cantor Gaming, an affiliate of the global financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, has announced yesterday that their pocketcasino (only available on the Las Vegas Strip at The Venetian and The Palazzo), is now offering casino style games in addition to in-running sports wagering incuding traditional casino games such as blackjack, video poker and slots.  

Included in the new choice of casino games are innovative games including XtraOdds Blackjack and XtraOdds Baccarat. These games offer extra propositional bets that dynamically calculate odds based on the cards dealt, giving an extra opportunity to press or hedge your bets.  

Pocketcasino gaming promises a dramatic increase to business revenues while allowing casino patrons to multi-task and gamble like never before, including allowing patrons the ability to play casino style games while roaming throughout the high limit slot salon, Grazie gold lounge, race & sports book, and designated public areas currently including  bars, lounges and restaurants at The Venetian and The Palazzo in Las Vegas.

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Aria’s New Poker Room in Las Vegas

Fans of Bobby’s Room at the Bellagio will be happy to hear there is an equivalent in the Aria poker room in the new CityCenter complex and it has already been put to use.  Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte, Davide Benyamine, Tom Dwan, and Patrik Antonius were all spotted recently playing in the secluded VIP lounge. 

While the room is semi-private, ogling railbirds can still get a peek at their favorite high-stakes players through the glass front door.  According to one of the employees at Aria, Phil Ivey is currently in talks to loan his name to the room in the same fashion that Bobby Baldwin did at the Bellagio, so news of big games being played in “Phil’s Room” could be on the horizon. 

A number of poker pros have taken time to check out the new poker room, including Jimmy “Gobboboy” Fricke and and UB.com sponsored pro Bryan “Badbeatninja” Devonshire.  Both had generally positive remarks about the new room and they took the time to relay their sentiments recently to Poker News Daily. 

When Poker News Daily paid a visit to the new room, the emphasis on service was apparent.  There was a short wait for $1/ $3 No Limit Hold’em, but everyone was being seated in a relatively short amount of time and the use of chip runners helped to speed up the process even further.  Beverage service is currently available and food service is said to be supposedly coming in the near future.

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Historic Binion’s Hotel in Las Vegas to Close

Another legendary landmark Las Vegas hotel has put up a permanent no vacancy sign. Binion’s announced Monday it will shut down its 365 rooms on Dec. 14. The casino and other operations, though, will reportedly remain open. 

Binion’s officials have said the reason for shutting down the hotel operations was because of the ever slumping economy which has forced room rates to drop and vacancies to rise. 

Even though the casino will stay open, there’s no question the decision will be a blow to a downtown that has struggled — even during the talks of revitalization. 

It’s been a staple on Fremont Street for more than half a century. Word of the closure spread quickly. 

Binion’s original coffee shop and Keno operation will also close, but the entire casino operation — including the Sports Book and the famed poker room which hosted the World Series of Poker from 1970 to 2005 — will stay open. 

But the hotel closure could impact gaming. 

Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is trying to help Binion’s owners and lenders hammer out a deal to keep the hotel open. He said he does not think this will impact his plan to revitalize downtown. 

“Once you start saying you’re not going to do those things, then you recede. Vegas is a very funny place. We go through these ups and downs. We’ve been here before, perhaps not to this level, but I don’t blame this on Las Vegas. Las Vegas has the infrastructure in place. We’ve got the best hotels, restaurants, shopping and entertainment,” Goodman said. 

Goodman said it’s hard to find investors to come in with fresh money to refurbish rooms, but he’s not giving up.  “We have to keep pushing forward, now more than ever,” Goodman said. 

About 100 people will be laid off when the hotel closes. 

Anyone who has a reservation after Dec. 14 is being referred to Binion’s sister property across the street, The Four Queens. 

Most of the restaurants, including the famed Binion’s Ranch Steakhouse, will remain open.

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Only One Gambling Site in Las Vegas’ New $8.5 Billion CityCenter

AriaIs gambling in Las Vegas becoming passé with the advent of new venues? 

Gaming regulators in Las Vegas last Friday granted preliminary licensing approval for the only casino component inside the $8.5 billion CityCenter project and suggested the revenue mix might be sharply different from the traditional gaming-driven environment that has existed since Las Vegas’ creation. 

During a hearing that lasted more than two hours, the Nevada Gaming Control Board was told not to expect additional gaming inside the multiple hotel, high-rise residential and entertainment complex. 

Aria, pictured, CityCenter’s 4,004-room centerpiece, was designed as the project’s only casino. Vdara and Mandarin Oriental are nongaming hotels, and Veer Tower is strictly residential. 

Executives from MGM Mirage and Dubai World, its 50-50 partner in the development, explained the CityCenter concept, using a promotional sales video and previewing Aria’s first television advertisement in what will be a $20 million marketing campaign. 

Gaming is not the focal point of the 67-acre project. The casino at Aria, roughly the size of Bellagio, will have only 145 table games and 1,940 slot machines, half of which will be linked to a server-based gaming platform. 

Aria President Bill McBeath said the casino’s revenue projections are modeled with Bellagio, but the CityCenter casino has fewer slot machines. He said Aria is designed to have private gambling salons like other MGM Mirage high-end casinos, but the rooms will not be used immediately. 

“There will be cross-marketing between the properties,” McBeath said. Aria will host MGM Mirage’s private Chinese New Year party for high-end customers at the MGM Grand, Bellagio and other company resorts. 

McBeath said Aria’s slot machines are projected to produce roughly $320 win per unit per day. 

During MGM Mirage’s quarterly earning conference call with analysts, City Center Chief Executive Officer Bobby Baldwin said Aria would produce $1.2 billion in revenue in 2010. 

“The (revenue) projections are optimistic,” Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander said. “But they seem reasonable.” 

The three-member control board then recommended unanimous approval for Aria. The Nevada Gaming Commission will consider the recommendation this week.

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Jeffery Pollack Resigns from World Series of Poker, Harrah’s in Las Vegas

World Series of Poker (WSOP) Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack has resigned from his post at the WSOP and Harrah’s.  Friday, November 13th, was Pollack’s last day on the job. JeffreyPollock

“It’s bittersweet, but I’m leaving with just great memories and a really nice sense of it being a great run. More than anything else, I’m just appreciative of the opportunity to have been part of the WSOP,” said Pollack, who was instrumental in growing the WSOP since assuming his position in 2005. 

The WSOP entered its 40th year this year, with Michigan pro Joe Cada crowned its latest and youngest champion last week. 

World Series of Poker spokesman Seth Palansky said there were no immediate intentions to replace Pollack. 

Back in May, Pollack teamed with former Party Gaming CEO Mitch Garber to lead Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment, the casino giant’s newly-formed online arm. Pollack was slated to be its President and Harrah’s CEO Gary Loveman commented in a press release announcing the launch: “As the world’s largest gaming company, Harrah’s is taking a proactive approach toward international and interactive expansion. It is important we position ourselves to explore new markets as well as new technologies with our best in class brands.” 

Pollack said his next career move remains up in the air: “I really wanted to see this year through, see this series through. I’m leaving on an absolute high note.”

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Las Vegas World Series of Poker $8.5 Million Main Event Won Today by Youngest Winner Ever– 21-year-old Joe Cada from Michigan

A 21-year-old Michigan poker professional who chose cards over college won the World Series of Poker main event in Las Vegas early today, winning $8.55 million and becoming the youngest player to win the tournament in its 40-year history. JoeCada

Joe Cada of Shelby Township, Mich., turned over a pair of nines early after 46-year old Darvin Moon called his all-in wager with a suited queen-jack, setting up an about-even race for most of the chips on the table. 

But a board of two sevens, a king, an eight and a deuce didn’t connect with either player’s cards and gave Cada the win. 

“I ran really well and I never really thought this was possible,” Cada said. “It was one of those dreams and I’m thankful it came true.” 

The hand abruptly ended a final table that saw Moon, a logger from western Maryland, bounce back to a dominant chip lead after being down 2-1 in chips to start the night. 

“I knew if I could catch, I got him,” Moon said of the final hand. “I just took a shot.”

 Cada broke a record for the tournament’s youngest winner set last year by Peter Eastgate of Denmark. Cada is 340 days younger than Eastgate. 

The record was previously held for two decades by 11-time gold bracelet winner Phil Hellmuth, who posed for pictures with Cada after the win. 

When asked what’s next for him after reaching the pinnacle for poker so early in his career, Cada said: “To win it back-to-back.” 

Moon and Cada traded the lead several times in 88 hands spanning nearly three hours of play, with one 20-minute break. 

Moon won $5.18 million for second place. 

“I only play good when my back’s against the wall,” said Cada, who was nearly ousted from the tournament on Saturday when he held about 1 percent of the chips in play after 123 hands. 

The players traded chips atop a table with a stack of cash and a gold bracelet on its felt, and in front of nearly 1,500 screaming fans in a capacity crowd at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. 

Their tug-of-war ended an epic tournament that began with 6,494 players in July. 

Unlike Cada, who said he regularly plays about a dozen tournaments at a time online or three at a time in heads-up cash games, Moon hasn’t played a single hand of online poker. He doesn’t even own a computer or have an e-mail address.

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Final Table of World Series of Poker Starts Saturday in Las Vegas

The final nine poker players will square off next Saturday at Noon at the Rio at the final table of the World Series of Poker.  It will conclude when two remain and await the championship. The winner will receive a payout of $8.5 million; ninth place takes home $1.3 million. 

The top four at the Main Event final table will control 75 percent of the chips. 

If you want to take in the action, the Penn & Teller Theater viewing is free to the public to anyone 21 and older. Space allocated on first-come, first-served basis. 

ESPN will air a two-hour telecast on Saturday and Monday’s final table. 

Las Vegas Backstage Access has followed the action and will continue to do so until the end. 

Player standing and stats going into the Main Event: 

1. Darvin Moon, 45, Oakland, MD, $58.9 million (in chips)

2. Erich Buchman, 29, Hewlitt, NY, $34.8 million

3. Steve Begletter, 47, Chappaqua, NY, $29.9 million

4. Jeff Schuman, 34, Las Vegas, NV, $19.6 million

5. Joseph Cada, 21, Shelby Township, MI, $13.2 million

6. Kevin Schaffel, 51, Coral Springs, FLA, $12.4 million

7. Phil Ivey, 32, Las Vegas, NV, $9.8 million

8. Antoine Saout, 25, St. Martine des Champs, France, $9.5 million

9. James Akenhead, 26, London, England, $6.8 million

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PokerStars adding Online Pro division?

It appears that PokerStars will be adding a primarily online section of its Team Pro roster.

The employee that runs the official PokerStars twitter account recently tweeted the following:

“Team PokerStars Online Pro is a new branch of our team who’ll be playing mainly online not live. Anyone will be able to apply in due course.”

Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu re-Tweeted the message.

PokerStars already has some very respectable online players with Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Jason “treysfull21” Mercier and Hevad “RaiNKhaN” Khan all in the Team PokerStars Pro fold.

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Bobb Barr speaks out on Internet Gambling

Former House Representative Bob Barr is the latest public figure to comment on the state of online gambling in his Atlanta Journal-Constitution column, the Barr Code. 

Barr mentioned that the potentially revenue generated from legalizing, regulating and taxing online poker was becoming harder for the government to ignore. 

Barr went on to say it was very likely that Barney Frank’s pro-online gambling bill would go before a hearing this fall. 

Earlier this year, conservative columnist George Will wrote in his Washington Post column that he supported the legalization of online poker.

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Nevada Leads U.S. with Highest Divorce Rate- 14.2 %!

Las Vegas has always been a town where people rush in, sometimes eloping, and quickly head down the aisle in a quick marriage.  Now, new figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau show that Nevada also has the the highest divorce rate of any state in the nation last year– 14.2 percent of the population has been through a divorce. divorce

Experts point to alcohol abuse, gambling addiction and the overall 24-hour environment filled with dancers, showgirls and brothels as likely contributors to the high rate across the state, including Reno—once known as the “Divorce Capital of the World.” 

Frank Lin is a divorce attorney in Las Vegas whose firm Lin & Associates uses the phone number 702-DIVORCE. He says there’s “a lot of temptation, so to speak, because it’s constantly in front of you.”

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Las Vegas Billionaires Cry in their Dom Pérignon

The annual Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans for 2009 was released this week.  With deep sadness and regret Las Vegas Backstage Access reports that most Las Vegas gaming luminaries have taken multibillion-dollar net worth shellackings. billionaires

Most blamed their financial woes largely on the stock market’s collapse in 2008 and early 2009. 

Las Vegas Sands Corp. founder, chairman and chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson, 76, was the highest-ranking Nevada resident on the list, coming in at No. 26 with a net worth of $9 billion. 

But even that is chump change in comparison to Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates who tops the Forbes list with a net worth of $50 billion, followed by financier Warren Buffett, who comes in at No. 2 with $40 billion. 

By comparison, Adelson began 2008 as the third-richest person, but Forbes refigured its list later in the year and Adelson fell to 15th with a net worth of $15 billion. In March, when Forbes released its top billionaire list, Adelson was listed with a net worth of $3.4 billion. 

Las Vegas Sands avoided filing bankruptcy nearly a year ago when Adelson invested $1 billion of his own money into the company to make a debt payment. 

Kirk Kerkorian, the 92-year-old Los Angeles billionaire who owns about 43 percent of MGM Mirage, took the largest tumble of all gaming executives on the list, falling from 27th in 2008 with $11.2 billion, to 97th in 2009 with a net worth of $3 billion. 

MGM Mirage’s declining stock since the end of 2007 reduced the value of Kerkorian’s holdings in the company from $11 billion down to $1.5 billion. Other Kerkorian investments in the oil and automotive industries also suffered throughout the year. 

Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman Steve Wynn fell from 118th with $3.4 billion to 141st with $2.3 billion. “Tough year for the king of Las Vegas,” Forbes reported. 

The biggest Las Vegas challenge, according to the magazine, was opening the $2.3 billion Encore last December in the middle of the recession.  

Meanwhile, Wynn cashed out more than $100 million in shares of Wynn Resorts that will be used as part of his upcoming divorce settlement with his wife, Elaine. 

Other Las Vegas gaming industry executives making the list included former Stratosphere owner Carl Icahn, who recently became majority shareholder of Tropicana Entertainment. Icahn was 22nd with $10.5 billion in net worth. 

New York billionaire Donald Trump, who owns the Trump International Las Vegas and 30 percent of the company that controls three Atlantic City casinos, was 158th on the list with $2 billion in net worth. 

Other Las Vegans include Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin, No. 193 with $1.85 billion, and Silverton owner Ed Roski Jr., No. 236 with $1.5 billion, rounded out the list of gaming executives. 

Hilton Hotels scion Barron Hilton, who earned $800 million when the company was sold to Blackstone in 2007 and $300 million from the sale of Harrah’s Entertainment in 2008, is tied with Wynn for 141st on the list with $2.3 billion. 

Curiously, Las Vegas partier and socialite extraordinaire Paris Hilton, and even her pet monkey were left off the list. 

The only other Nevadan listed on the Forbes 400 is Henderson resident Nancy Walton Laurie, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. She was listed in 118th place with $2.6 billion. 

Three members of Mars family, whose family’s company owns the Las Vegas-based Ethel M Chocolate family, tied for 19th place on the list, each with $11 million in net worth. 

Now, a brief moment of silence for all the Las Vegas  billionaires who have lived gold-gilded lives and lost but a smidgeon of their fortunes– and for the majority masses who can’t even count to a billion, or even write it.

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Harrah’s Extends World Series of Poker Contract with IMG Sports & Entertainment

Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment and IMG Sports & Entertainment announced a four-year contract extension for global representation of the WSOP property. 

According to the agreement, IMG will continue to use its international network to help establish the brand in areas beyond Las Vegas and London. 

“We are looking to emphasize the ‘World’ in World Series of Poker as our vision of the brand extends beyond the annual events in Las Vegas and London,” said Mitch Garber, CEO of Harrah’s Interactive Entertainment. 

“By tapping the global reach and expertise of IMG, we are confident that together we can take the brand to new levels on the international stage through new international bracelet events and other WSOP licensed poker events.”

 IMG has worked with the WSOP since 2005 and helped attract corporate sponsors like Jack Link’s, Hershey’s and Planters.

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Las Vegas’ Colorful Legend Bob Stupak Dies

The brash, enterprising Las Vegas legend and casino mogul who brought the Stratosphere to the Strip has sadly died.  Bob Stupak, 67, died Friday afternoon from leukemia at Desert Springs Hospital, with his family by his side. 

Stupak accomplished a lot of things in life and met a lot of people over the years since coming to Vegas in 1971, and on Friday night, friends remembered a man they called a legend. 

“I was surprised and stunned,” said Dr. Lonnie Hammargren. 

As word spread of Stupak’s death, the memories of the casino mogul were still very much alive. 

“Bob had ideas and did things that people wouldn’t do,” Hammargren said. 

Perhaps no one has more memorabilia in one place than former Lt. Gov. Hammargren. His backyard is a lasting legacy to Stupak’s creations, including a model space ship that graced the top of Stupak’s Vegas World in the late ‘70s. 

 “He loved to rock the boat,” said Howard Schwartz. Schwartz met Stupak in the early ‘80s while working at the Gambler’s Book Shop. “He came into the store, and he always had questions about new games or something innovative he wanted to try,” Schwartz said. 

That innovative spirit led Stupak to build what still is the tallest structure in Las Vegas — the 1,149-foot-tall Stratosphere — in 1996. 

The Stratosphere seemed a metaphor for all of Stupak’s life struggles: Its construction was stalled by a dramatic fire high in its pedestal that rained embers onto the street, and three months after its 1996 opening — and a year after he nearly died in a motorcycle crash — he resigned as chairman as the property was falling into bankruptcy. 

It was after that when he pitched his Titanic casino, which Las Vegas city officials promptly rejected. 

Stupak’s bickering with city and county politicians, and his contention that he could do a better job, led to several blustery runs for public office and a stint at publishing his own maverick weekly newspaper, the now defunct Las Vegas Bullet.

In his inaugural run for mayor in 1987, he sent gift fruit baskets to potential voters. Stupak also financed the unsuccessful Las Vegas City Council campaigns of his daughter Nicole in 1991 and his son, Nevada, in 1999. 

Stupak also was credited with helping to get his then nurse-turned-girlfriend, Janet Moncrief, elected to Las Vegas City Council in 2003. She wound up being the only council member ever to be recalled from office. Stupak tossed his hat into the political arena for the last time in 2006, making a run for lieutenant governor of Nevada. He finished third, garnering 17 percent of the statewide vote. 

In the late 1990s Stupak began helping charitable causes through his foundation, including opening a community center in one of the poorest areas of town. 

For his philanthropic efforts, the Las Vegas City Council on Feb. 23, 1996, issued a proclamation citing Stupak for his “valuable pioneering efforts” and “his outstanding generosity … in answering the call of children, the homeless and the underprivileged.” 

In more recent years, a seemingly mellower Stupak kept a much lower profile, content to play in high stakes poker games at the Bellagio and other major Strip resort card rooms and shirking the limelight he once sought with much fervor. He also was seen occasionally on televised poker events, including a final table during the first season of the World Poker Tour. 

Streetwise and poker-savvy, abrasive and ambitious, Bob Stupak was always the ultimate Las Vegas gambler and huckster, always pushing the envelope if it would bring him publicity. 

Always the independent (his nickname was “the Polish Maverick”), he was more aggravating than charming, but always a topic of conversation, which pleased him. 

“He thought of himself as larger than he was and could often come off as gruff and angry, especially if you disagreed with him,” said Howard Schwartz, operator of the Gamblers Book Shop. “Bob Stupak liked being controversial — he swam upstream. It was almost overkill how he tried to earn people’s respect, which he never truly got. People would smile and shake his hand then talk about him behind his back.” 

Stupak was sometimes the survivor — like after a horrific motorcycle crash that crushed every bone in his face and left him in a coma 14 years ago — and sometimes the loser, running unsuccessfully to be the Las Vegas mayor, a Clark County commissioner and the Nevada lieutenant governor. 

What he did win at was poker. A fixture at the old World Series of Poker at what is now Binion’s, in 1989 he won a $139,500 purse in the $5,000 buy-in no-limit deuce-to-7 world championship. He made the final table of that event three more times during his career. 

“Bob was a decathlon gambler — sports bets, propositions, poker — everything at once,” said Las Vegas oddsmaker and gambler Lem Banker, who gave Stupak the advice to take Cincinnati plus 6 1/2 points in the 1989 Super Bowl against San Francisco for Stupak’s legendary $1 million winning bet. “He had a lot of heart and a lot of brains.” 

Besides children Nevada and Nicole, Stupak is survived by another daughter, Summer; two sisters, Linda Phillips and Nancy O’Conner, and two former wives, Sandra Blumen and Annette Hatton. 

Stupak requested that there not be a funeral service.

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Cannery Casino Plays Musical Chairs with Executives

Cannery Casino Resorts, the Las Vegas-based company that owns The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, is restructuring its executive line-up to allow its founders to spend more time on long-term strategic planning, according to a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Cannery

The newspaper reported that CCR named Tom Lettero to the newly created position of president. Lettero also will retain his duties as chief financial officer.

Xavier Walsh was hired from Melbourne, Australia-based casino owner Crown Ltd. to be CCR’s chief operating officer, a position Lettero is surrendering.

Walsh will oversee operations of all CCR properties, which also include the Cannery in North Las Vegas and the Rampart Casino at the JW Marriott at Summerlin. 

Walsh’s prior employer, Crown Ltd., suspended its attempt to purchase CCR for $1.75 billion in March. While Crown still has a two-year option to close the sale, the company, controlled by billionaire James Packer, paid $325 million for a 24.5 percent stake in Cannery pending regulatory approval.

 CCR, like its competitors, is burdened by heavy debt and declining casino revenue.   It had about $860 million in debt in late May. Executives told the newspaper the company is financially strong and is making plans beyond the current economy.

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NFL Player LaMont Jordan Sued by Las Vegas Casino

LaMontJordanNFL running back LaMont Jordan has been accused by the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas of failing to honor markers totaling $20,000, according to a suit filed by the resort in Clark County. The debts are treated as bad checks by Nevada law, and can result in criminal charges and arrest, if not resolved.

Jordan joins NBA stars Charles Barkley and Antoine Walker in being pursued by casinos chasing gambling debts. Barkley and Walker each owed many times as much as Jordan, causing a public splash over athletes extended credit to gamble who then defaulted.

Barkley paid his debt and a ten percent fee to the Clark County attorney’s office. Walker was arrested only days after the claim against him was filed while visiting a Reno casino.

Jordan’s debts are from June of last year, say Mirage officials. Six vouchers totalling $20,000 were issued over two days, but payment was rejected for insufficient funds.

Jordan has played for the New York Jets, the Oakland Raiders, and the New England Patriots. This year he enters the season on the roster of the Denver Broncos.

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Larger Bets in Las Vegas?

A group of Las Vegas casino operators are planning to pool their sports book bets so their books can handle heavier betting action. 

South Point owner Michael Gaughan received preliminary approval from Nevada’s Gaming Control Board to pool sports bets with the Palms, both Cannery casinos and the Rampart Casino at the JW Marriott in Las Vegas. 

Pooling will allow the books to accept larger bets on all sports, but the casino operators really want to capture a larger share of college and pro football bets when the season begins in September. 

The arrangement will allow these casinos to compete more effectively against larger casinos that run multiple books, including Station Casinos, Boyd Gaming Corp., MGM Mirage and Harrah’s Entertainment. 

The properties, however, can’t begin taking bets under the proposed system until the Nevada Gaming Commission approves the plan.  They plan to consider the proposal at their Aug. 20 meeting in Carson City, Nevada.

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Nevada Supreme Court to Hear Las Vegas Gambler’s Woes

The Nevada Supreme Court has ordered a new trial on punitive damages awarded to a Las Vegas gambler against the Imperial Palace, citing attorney misconduct. 

In an opinion issued last Thursday, the high court said James Grosjean’s trial lawyer, Robert Nersesian, improperly asked jurors to “send a message” to the casino and to put themselves in his client’s position. 

Grosjean, an expert gambler, was awarded $99,000 in compensatory damages and $150,000 in punitive damages after he was handcuffed, searched and detained by security guards in 2000 at the request of state Gaming Control Board agents. 

Court records say about halfway through the 45-minute incident, another Control Board agent said Grosjean should be released, but he was not immediately let go.

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Bikini Blackjack Offers Las Vegas Eye Candy to Boost Revenue

There is now an added incentive to want to double-down in Las Vegas.  Everywhere you turn,  more and more Las Vegas casinos are changing out their neatly dressed dealers, replacing with scantily clad ones to boost revenues.  For one, the Stratosphere is bringing gambling outdoors for the summer, featuring bikini-clad blackjack dealers who are overseeing a gambling pit on the resort’s eighth-floor pool deck. bikiniblackjack

The pit with the mostest is available for customers from noon to 7 p.m. Fridays through Sundays during the summer months.  Eye tests are free. 

The Stratosphere recently completed a renovation of its pool area, including its swimming pool, by adding a hot tub and upgraded cabanas.

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Final Table Revealed for World Series of Poker in Las Vegas

The original field of World Series of Poker (WSOP) began with 6,494 competitors.  Now, after nearly 11 hours of play in the Rio’s convention pavilion, the nine-player final table is set for the World Series of Poker’s $10,000 no-limit hold ‘em world championship.  

The final table, a mixed bag of experienced poker professionals and amateurs ranging in age from 21 to 51, are now on a four-month break. 

The World Series of Poker resumes November 7, this time inside the Rio’s Penn & Teller Theater.  The nine players will compete until a heads-up table of two is reached.  The pair will come back November 9 and play for the title.  ESPN will broadcast it the next evening. 

The chip leader going forward is Darvin Moon, a logger from Cleveland, Md.. The other eight players in the final table are Eric Buchman of Valley Stream, N.Y., former Bear Stearns executive Steven Begleiter of Chappaqua, N.Y., Card Player magazine editor Jeff Shulman of Las Vegas, Joseph Cada of Shelby Township, Mich., Kevin Schaffel, Coral Springs, Fla., Antoine Saout of France, standout poker player Phil Ivey of Las Vegas and James Akenhead of London.

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Las Vegas World Series of Poker Impervious to Economic Woes

Once again, poker has seemingly proven impervious to these difficult times. The World Series of Poker (WSOP) “Stimulus Special” tournament in Las Vegas (with a lower-than-normal $1,000 buy-in) sold out, drawing 6,012 players. It was the fourth-largest field of all time, trailing only the main events in 2006 (8,773 players), 2008 (6,844) and 2007 (6,358). The winner was 24-year-old Steven Sung, who pocketed $771,106.

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Las Vegas Lowers Blackjack Minimums, Not Winning Odds

Hotel, show, meal, and retail deals are everywhere you look in Las Vegas.   So, it comes with no surprise that our main attraction – blackjack – is flush with deals.  In fact, several Las Vegas Strip casinos have lowered table minimums on their blackjack games in an attempt to lure more customers in during tough economic times.  

The haute Wynn Las Vegas offers some $25 double deck blackjack games on weekdays, down from $50 per hand minimum.  On the other end of the posh spectrum, the Sahara is offering $1 blackjack. Lower minimums have been reported everywhere, even at Harrah’s and MGM Mirage casino properties. 

Players view the moves as a retreat from the high minimums of years past, during the tourism boom.  At that time, table minimums at many Strip properties rose sky-high, along with hotel room rates, mixed drink prices and dining bills. 

But don’t get snookered into believing that lower blackjack minimums now are necessarily a good player deal.  

MGM Mirage adjusts their table game limits based on daily visitor volume.  

Another aspect that comes into play are the rules.  The more favorable the odds of a particular table game, the higher the minimum bet requirement- a strategy that limits the number of players who can take their shot against the casino.  And lower limits almost always mean worse rules for players, says Al Rogers of Pi Yee Pres, which publishes blackjack rule and odds by property in it Current Blackjack News newsletter. 

Players may think they’re getting a better deal with a lower-minimum game when actually the opposite is typically true, he warns. 

Rather than tempting players by reducing their house edge, Strip casinos, Rogers says, have continues a trend that began before the recession, to lower the odds for blackjack and related games by worsening rules.

 For example, many Strip casinos offer games paying 6-to-5 odds for blackjacks, instead of the customary 3-to-2, and those where dealers hit “soft” 17s, meaning they must draws another card on hands containing an ace valued at 11, giving the house a chance to improve a relatively weak hands.  Both strategies, though, increase the house edge. 

Blackjack wagers on the Strip fell by nearly $1 billion for the 12 months ended April 30, after peaking the previous year, according to the Gaming Control Board.  However, the telling fact is that Strip casinos still kept 10.9 percent of those wagers, a fraction of a percentage point less than in the previous record period.

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Wall Street Bets on Isle of Capri Casinos

Comprehensive cost-cutting measures and being located outside the troubled Las Vegas and Atlantic City markets is making Isle of Capri a safer bet among investors despite continued revenue loss at its casinos. The regional gambling operator, based in St. Louis, Mo., is sporting the best returns among its casino peers, with its share price more than tripling since the beginning of the year.

“Although there is broad pressure on consumer spending, smaller regional markets have held up better than Las Vegas and Atlantic City during the recession,” said Michael Paladino, senior director of gaming at Fitch Ratings. 

Missouri recently eased gaming regulations, which helped Isle’s relative property performance compared with some of the larger gaming companies with greater exposure to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, Paladino said. In general, regional casinos in America’s heartland have stabilized because they aren’t as vulnerable to weakness in nongaming areas such as lodging, fine dining and air travel. 

MGM Mirage and the Las Vegas Sands Corp. had been dogged by concerns surrounding liquidity as well as a brutal business environment in Sin City which is battling rising unemployment and home foreclosures. Amid signs of industry stabilization and the removal of bankruptcy fears, MGM Mirage is up 260% from its 52-week low of $1.81. However, the company’s share price is still down about 52% from the beginning of the year.  Meanwhile, Las Vegas Sands is up roughly 36% on the year to about $8. 

Keith Foley, a gaming analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, said while investors are getting more bullish because the pace of declines has slowed, Isle of Capri is still grappling with “declines on a revenue basis with few exceptions across the board,” at the casino properties. 

“The top line is still struggling,” he said. Foley noted, however, that the management team has made extensive strides at controlling costs. “It’s still hard to say that (demand) trends have stabilized across the U.S.” 

Isle of Capri, which owns 17 properties, announced last week that it swung to a fiscal fourth-quarter profit on a $57.7 million gain from the early extinguishment of debt. It was the company’s second straight quarter of profit after more than two years of losses – a $95.2 million Hurricane Katrina insurance claim inflated its fiscal third-quarter results. 

The debt-laden casino operator has been cutting costs and consolidating its portfolio into two brands as it concentrates on the U.S. The company has left the U.K. market and plans to stop operating its property in the Bahamas, where a sharp decline in tourism in late May shuttered a Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts BV property. 

Fitch’s Paladino said the company has made strong efforts to improve their financial position, which has improved sentiment on the company. They have “one of the top cost-focused management teams in the industry,” he said. “Their overall credit profile is pretty attractive.”  Paladino also said Isle has no debt maturities until 2012 and very minimal capital spending plans beyond maintenance.

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Poker Ace Annie Duke ‘All In’ at World Series of Poker in Las Vegas

Poker ace Annie Duke plays poker like she is running a business, not letting emotions rule her play, thinking quicklyAnnieDuke and accurately, as witnessed in her latest TV show stint.  With CEO-like skills, she is one of the most successful female poker players in the world.  The 43-year-old Duke has been playing in the World Series of Poker since 1994 and has cashed in on 37 events, earning more than $1.13 million through the Rio tournament annually held in Las Vegas. 

Her best finish in the tournament’s $10,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em Main Event was in 2000 when she placed 10th and won $52,160.  She won her first World Series of Poker champion’s bracelet in 2004 at an Omaha High-Low event. 

“I’ll probably play in about 15 to 20 events at the World Series,” Duke said. “It’s a long haul.” 

Duke drafted a new legion of fans and followers, boosting poker’s image in the process, as a contestant in the television series “The Celebrity Apprentice.”  She was one of 16 personalities trying to raise money for charity while trying not to be fired by the host, billionaire real estate developer Donald Trump.  Duke finished second ahead of a whole slew of sports stars, but it was her acrimonious verbal battles with comedienne Joan Rivers, the show’s eventual winner, that had the audience turning on in record numbers, driving ratings out the roof. 

Rivers said Duke was worse than “Hitler” and compared poker players to members of the Mafia.  Although the comments raised the ire of the poker community and officials at the World Series of Poker, the media boost couldn’t have been better for the game, Duke and Trump– it raised more than $1.5 million for various charities. 

But Duke believes that Rivers still owes poker players and Las Vegas an apology. 

“Poker is a legitimate profession,” said Duke, who is a graduate of Columbia University with degrees in psychology and English.  She also spent five years working toward a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in cognitive psychology, which she has set aside for now. 

Divorced, Duke is the mother of four children, ranging in age from 7 to 14.  

Her brother is poker standout Howard Lederer, who has two World Series of Poker titles to his credit.  On four occasions she and her bro have ended up at the same table during World Series of Poker play- each time she has knocked him out of the competition, adding “I guess I have bragging rights.” 

Duke is well known for her charitable giving efforts.  Through poker events, she has raised millions of dollars for children’s hospitals and educational foundations. 

In 2007, she and actor Don Cheadle established the Ante Up for Africa event, a $5,000 buy-in no-limit hold ‘em annual Las Vegas event in July that raises funds for the survivors of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan.  The event attracts the best Hollywood A-list celebrities and the poker elite, raising $500,000 last year alone for the cause. 

Duke is also an activist on Capitol Hill in trying to change the federal law outlawing the Internet wagering.  She is one of the founding members of the Poker Players Alliance, which supports making online poker once again a legal activity.

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Big Changes Coming to Tropicana in Las Vegas

The Tropicana’s new ownership group, headed up by former MGM Grand Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Alex Yemenidjian, plans to spend more than $100 million in the next year to ‘”transform the Tropicana to pre-eminence,” says Yemenidjian. 

The new owners, Tropicana Las Vegas Inc., plan to remodel the hotel’s 1,876 rooms, the casino floor, two new restaurants and center bar, the showroom, convention center and the pool areas with a South Beach Miami theme.  

A new sports book, poker room, and replacing the casino’s slot machines and table games are other planned changes.  

Pedestrian bridges from Excalibur and MGM Grand to the Tropicana are also planning to be extended. 

The changes will be introduced with new marketing and entertainment programs. 

The new owners plant to take over the Tropicana’s nongaming opertions July 1, pending Armenco Holding’s approval by the Nevada Gaming Commission, which meets June 18.

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Las Vegan Phil Ivey Wins Rare Seventh World Series of Poker Gold Bracelet

The 2009 World Series of Poker $2,500 buy-in Omaha High-Low Split / Seven-Card Stud High-Low Split champion is 32-year-old Las Vegan Phil Ivey. Ivey collected $220,538 for first place. He was also awarded his seventh WSOP gold bracelet. PhilIvey

Ivey now has 7 wins, 19 final table appearances, and 33 in-the-money finishes at the WSOP.  Ivey currently has $3,439,386 in WSOP winnings. 

The Las Vegan is one of the rare poker players who excels at both tournaments and cash games, being nearly a mythological figure in the poker world that is unquestionably one of the game’s most enigmatic personalities. Considered by many to be one of the most publicity-shy poker star in the world, Ivey rarely gives out interviews or reveals much about his private life. Yet the further Ivey runs away from the spotlight, the more it seems to shine upon him. Ivey’s numerous wagering exploits have become part of the popular modern folklore, making it difficult at time to separate fact from fiction.   

Ivey routinely makes stratospheric-sized prop and sports bets. He reportedly bet $1 million on last year’s Super Bowl. He won. 

Ivey’s “poker office” was in the luxurious Trump Taj Mahal until the age of 24, when he moved to Las Vegas. He then started playing tournament poker and gradually attained superstar status.

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$1,000 World Series of Poker Buy-In Earns 24-Year-Old $771,106 in Las Vegas

Steven Sung, a 24-year-old resident of Torrance, California, who was born in Seoul, South Korea, and immigrated with his parent to the United States 17 years ago, is a very determined poker player.  His true grit paid off. SteveSung

He didn’t like the way he played in the World Series of Poker’s Special Anniversary $40,000 buy-in, no-limit hold ‘em event in Las Vegas. 

Sung lost in the first day of competition. 

Undaunted, Sung, who has been playing poker professionally for three years, fought back his emotional funk and then ponied up $1,000 more to participate in the tournament’s “Stimulus Special,” a low buy-in, no-limit hold ‘em event that attracted 6,012 players. 

He played for over four days.  His efforts earned Sung his first World Series of Poker championship bracelet just before midnight on Wednesday at the Rio, pocketing $771,106. 

Sung has won $949,476 in his World Series of Poker career, with more than $2.3 million in career winnings through several poker tournaments. 

For now, Sung plans to on continuing to play in the World Series of Poker upcoming events, including the main event. 

The $1,000 buy-in event he won attracted the fourth-largest field of players in World Series of Poker history, trailing only the main event of 2006 (8,773 players), 2008 (6,844 players) and 2007 (6,358 players).

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Malaysian Gaming Company Courting MGM Mirage in Las Vegas?

Is the pre-eminent Malaysian hotel and gaming company Genting Bhd working out a deal with the MGM Mirage in Las Vegas?  Reports out of Asia indicate that Genting’s Resorts World Bhd bought $100 million of MGM Mirage debt.  This debt had been sold as part of the MGM Mirage balance sheet restructuring. 

There are more questions than answers right now:  How will this impact the MGM Macau casino’s?  With the current MGM partner – Pansy Ho – being deemed unsuitable because of possible organized crime connections, is this move designed to bring in a party that the Nevada regulators would approve?  What would the direct effect be on the MGM Mirage’ Las Vegas business ventures including the MGM Hotel and Casino and City Center? 

Stay pointed to Las Vegas Backstage Access for the latest developments.

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Annie Duke Faces Rival Joan Rivers Today at Las Vegas Charity Poker Tournament

Fans of NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice may need to do a double take on May 27th after seeing Annie Duke join forces with archrival Joan Rivers at a charity poker tournament today in Las Vegas.  

Online poker site www.UltimateBet.net announced the sponsorship of the “Sucking out on the Rivers” charity poker tournament in support of Refugees International. Annie Duke will be hosting the event alongside Frank Marino, a well-known Joan Rivers impersonator.  Nearly all of the top poker pros in Vegas are already on board to play in the charity tournament. 

“I think that after this poker tournament, the real Joan Rivers will quickly realize that poker players are good-naturedAnnieDuke people – professional people with respected occupations and families – who really want to change the lives of those less fortunate,” stated Annie Duke. “As poker players, we’re all banding together, not just to prove a point to Joan, but to actually change the world.” 

While the charity poker tournament will be co-hosted by a Joan Rivers impersonator, the real Joan Rivers went head-to-head with Annie Duke on the most recent season of Celebrity Apprentice. The often abrasive and brash comedienne told Annie, on camera, that all poker players were white trash and that none of them had last names, suggesting that those who love poker are automatically linked to organized crime.  Rivers’ opinion has drawn the ire of many in the poker world. 

The world’s top poker players and several Hollywood celebrities are slated to play in the charity poker event today to show that there’s a lot of good that comes from poker. Over 20 Joan Rivers impersonators will also be playing in the event and each one will have a bounty on his or her head. Poker fans can secure their spot in the tournament for $200 and the No Limit Texas Hold’em tourney features rebuys and add-ons to help the prize pool grow even higher. 

Although all the prize money will go to the winner, half of the winnings are being voluntarily directed to charity. While Nevada gaming laws prohibit money being given directly from the prize pool to charity, the winner may volunteer to donate half of their winnings to the charity in keeping with what had been done in previous charity events hosted by UltimateBet.net. 

The “Sucking out on the Rivers” Charity Event, sponsored by www.UltimateBet.net, DeepStacks University, Hard Rock Poker Lounge, and WSOP Academy, gets underway today, May 27th at 6 p.m. at the Hard Rock Casino Poker Lounge.

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Millionaire Fights Back Against Las Vegas Casinos

The former owner of Oriental Trading Company in Omaha, Nebraska is fighting back against two Las Vegas casinos. 

A grand jury has indicted millionaire Terrence “Terry” Watanabe, 52, on felony charges of owing more than $15 million in gambling debt.TerryWatnabe   He pleaded not guilty on May 29 in Las Vegas; his trial is scheduled for November 16.

Watanabe claims the management at Caesars Palace and The Rio casinos in Las Vegas kept him in a constant state of intoxication and gave him prescription drugs. He claims that those actions caused his losses to increase through no fault of his own. 

Las Vegas casino operating policies prohibit serving intoxicated patrons.

The properties are declining comment.

Watanabe could face probation or up to 16 years in prison if convicted of the two felony theft and two bad check charges.

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Legalizing Internet Gambling in Top 10 of President Obama’s Citizen Briefing Book

Poker players simply passively sit, blow wispy smoke designs in the air and look at their cards from behind their stealth disguise of dark sunglasses and ball caps all day long, hoping to just cash in on a good payday.Gambling

Wrong.

Rather, many members of the one-million strong Poker Players Alliance saw fit to actively make their voices heard on the issue of legalizing Internet gambling by flooding the Obama Web site, suggesting online gambling should be made legal.

Their efforts paid off. Poker playing made the top 10 list of subjects sent to the White House when President Barack Obama – a self-proclaimed poker player -asked Americans to send him their policy priorities. Poker playing also ranked as the No. 1 issue in the technology category.

The citizen requested priorities were unveiled last week in a Citizens Briefing Book, made public just days after legislation was introduced in Congress to repeal the 2006 ban on Internet gambling.

In all, more than 125,000 users suggested 44,000 ideas to help the administration properly prioritize their agenda. They cast 1.4 million votes for their favorite ideas, with each supportive vote earning 10 points.

Legalizing poker was suggested by an online player from Washington, D.C., under the heading: “Boost America’s Economy with Legal Online Poker.” It earned 46,890 points.

Poker players beat out a suggestion for increasing automotive fuel efficiency standards (46,120 points), but didn’t outscore “the permanent closure of all torture facilities” (61,250 points).

An American Gaming Association study released Monday shows that 2 percent of adult respondents gamble online. The Poker Players group estimates between 10 million and 15 million Americans regularly gamble on the Internet. They also estimate $3 billion annually could be generated from legitimizing the online gambling business.

This month, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., introduced legislation that would essentially repeal the Internet gaming ban by instituting a framework for licensing and regulating online games.

Religious groups have vowed to maintain the online gambling ban, saying Internet gaming is a threat to home life and family finances.

This year Harrah’s Entertainment became the first major gaming bricks-and-mortar operations to back the online legislation. Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley signed on as a co-sponsor.

Franks spokesman Steve Adamske said support for the bill depend on the extent to which backers contact their lawmakers, adding that actions like the briefing book onslaught are “hugely helpful.”

In some ways Obama’s briefing book reads like a to-do list he has already started – closing Guantanamo Bay detention facility, developing clean energy sources, supporting investment in high-speed rail.

In others it is purely the voice of the people.

The top 10 issues also include: “Revoke the George W. Bush tax cuts on the top 1 percent,” “Commit to becoming the ‘greenest’ country in the world,” “No more wars on abstract concepts” and “ending marijuana prohibition.”

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Former Binion’s Horseshoe Boss Seeks to Buy Las Vegas Casino

Jack Binion, former Binion’s Horshoe CEO, is very cash rich and very interested in owning a Las Vegas casino. JackBinion

But the deal isn’t inked quite yet. 

“It’s a tough market right now,” said Binion, who sold his Horseshoe casinos in Indiana, Mississippi, and Louisiana to Harrah’s Entertainment in 2004 for $1 billion.

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Actress Teri Hatcher Teaches Daughter How to Gamble

Teri Hatcher may have just caught the gaming bug while staying at the Bellagio in Las Vegas during the “KeepTeriHatcher Memory Alive” charity fundraiser for the new Lou Ruvo Brain Institute back in March (Las Vegas Backstage Access March 7 article). 

Now word is that Hatcher is teaching her 11-year-old daughter how to gamble- so the youngster can hone her math skills. 

The Desperate Housewives actress, also an avid horse racing fan, candidly admits she has started taking her kid Emerson to meetings, so she can challenge her with betting equations. 

Hatcher insists the sport is helping her daughter learn how to add and subtract. 

She says, “I do use the opportunity to make her understand math and what you’re betting and what you get back… so we work on math. It’s fun.”

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Eliminating Tobacco from Las Vegas Casinos?

A new Health Hazard Evaluation report from NIOSH gives ammunition to anti-smoking groups because it’s their first recommendation that tobacco be eliminated at Las Vegas’ casinos. Smoking ban

The recommendation is based on 2005 on-site evaluations at Bally’s, Paris, and Caesars Palace casinos in Las Vegas, confidential medical interviews, and a questionnaire, with non-poker (NP) casino dealers compared with a group of casino employees in administrative and engineering jobs. The HHE says 124 NP dealers out of a total working population of 1,188 NP and poker casino dealers participated in the environmental and/or biological assessment. 

Establishment owners frequently battle anti-smoking efforts by claiming they will hurt business, and the casinos already are reporting sharply lower revenues in Las Vegas for the first quarter of this year. Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc., which owns Bally’s Las Vegas and Caesars Palace, said its Las Vegas Region’s revenues in the first three months of 2009 were down 20.5 percent, to $686.4 million, from the same period a year earlier, and income from operations was off by 36.4 percent. 

Titled “Environmental and Biological Assessment of Environmental Tobacco Smoke Exposure Among Casino Dealers” and written by five NIOSH employees, the HHE says NNAL in the dealers’ urine (NNAL is an environmental tobacco smoke biomarker) increased significantly during their eight-hour work shifts, both adjusting for and not adjusting for creatinine clearance. The dealers also reported more respiratory problems than did the non-dealers, but differences in the prevalence between the two groups weren’t significant, according to the report. The investigators found secondhand smoke components in the casinos’ air, including nicotine, respirable dust, benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde. 

“We recommend eliminating tobacco from the casinos and implementing a smoking cessation program,” the authors wrote. “The casinos should also eliminate smoking near building entrances and air intakes to protect employees from involuntary exposure to ETS. A physician should evaluate employees with respiratory symptoms, especially symptoms related to asthma that are associated with workplace exposures. 

A group named Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights hailed the report, saying  “Casino workers deserve the same rights as other workers, including the right to a healthy, safe workplace, free from toxic secondhand smoke. After the release of this report, we hope to see casino workers protected by strong smoke-free workplace laws throughout the country.” 

Executive Director Cynthia Hallett added that Nevada’s current workplace law does not cover the gaming areas of casinos and state legislators are considering rolling back the smoke-free workplace law further. “If anything, these results should convince Nevada lawmakers to strengthen their state law to include the gaming floors of casinos, not roll it back to expose more workers to toxic secondhand smoke.”

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World Series of Poker Prepares to Shuffle Up & Deal in Las Vegas

Despite the sour economy and Nevada gaming revenues being down almost 10 percent in 2008 and more than 16 percent down over the first two months of 2009, is apparently not an overriding concern for officials for the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas who remain optimistic and confident that the variety and depth of the best poker playerspetereastgate in the world will be the draw needed for the 57-event WSOP tournament that begins its six-week run May 26 at The Rio, the host casino for the event. 

To sweeten the pot, a $40,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em event on May 28 is expected to draw poker’s most elite players.  Then, two days later, the tournament will host a $1,000 buy-in no-limit event that is expected to attract another approximate 6,000 players. 

If that’s not enough draw, on May 31, a special two-day Champions Invitational will take place with the 27 living previous World Series of Poker world champions being invited to participate in a no-limit hold’em event. 

The 2009 World Series of Poker event will include 10 World Championship $10,000 buy-in events and seven $1,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournaments.  The $50,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event, which mixes five different poker games, will take place on June 26.  The $10,000 buy-in World Championship No-Limit Hold’em Main Event will being on July 3 and reach its final table of nine players on July 15. 

For the second straight year, players will then wait four months before returning to the Rio on November 7 to play for the championship, which ESPN will televise on a same-day taped delay.

Last year’s World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas drew 58,720 entries from 124 countries and awarded a prize pool of more than $180.7 million.  The winner in November was 22-year-old Peter Eastgate of Denmark, who became the tournament’s youngest-ever word champion, taking away $9.15 million in a four-hour heads-up final table with Russian Ivan Demidov.

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Robin Williams’ Comedy Featured at CineVegas Film Festival in Las Vegas

Robin Williams is always a tough act to follow.  But at the 11th annual CineVegas film festival in Las Vegas from June 10 through 15 at the Palms Casino & Hotel he’ll be the last act. robinwilliams

His dark comedy “World’s Greatest Dad” directed by Bobcat Goldthwait will close the six-day film extravaganza.  The film features Williams as a high school poetry teacher trying to connect with his teenage son (Darryl Sabara) and an art teacher (Alexis Gilmore) – until a freak accident triggers both tragedy and opportunity. 

The very popular annual Las Vegas festival features a “Pioneer Documentaries” section featuring seven non-fiction films including the world premier of the poker documentary “All In.” 

“Diamond Discoveries” section spotlights new independent films available for distribution, among them “Palermo Shooting,” starring CineVegas chair Dennis Hopper, and “Vegas:  Based on a True Story,” about a compulsive gambler and his blue-collar family living on the outskirts of Glitter City. 

The festival’s “Area 52” is devoted to midnight showings of underground and cult films. 

A special section will also spotlight features and shorts produced in Nevada, or by Nevada filmmakers, including the world premiere of “Thor at the Bus Stop,” which follows a mythical creature on his final journey. 

More information is online at www.CineVegas.com

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Guns ‘n Beer Sin City Showdown

Like to get away from it all?  Have a brewskie and try your luck at video poker?  Now you can get all that and – if you’re really feeling lucky – a new 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun to call your own and have some good clean fun!  drinkingguns

The O’Aces Bar & Grill in Las Vegas, 4955 S. Decatur Blvd., is amping up their promotions campaign to lure in a new caliber of customers in our knee-deep recession.   They’re offering a smokin’ 9mm Smith and Wesson handgun as their jackpot to any video poker customer that is lucky enough to hit two royal flush bullseyes within a month.  That’s right.

The spirited promotion is stirring up a whirlwind of controversy, even for a city that sees and does it all.  Some say it’s downright dangerous, providing a legal license to kill.  Bar management quickly counters, saying they’re just being innovative and trying anything they can to survive, adding “it’s our right to bear arms.”  

So far, their innovative new business promotion is  proving to be a silver bullet killer- they’re bringing in customers they’ve never seen before. 

No word on what President Obama is planning to do to curb the proliferation of such handguns.

Win two royals and a scantily clad cocktail waitress just slings you the shiny gun from under the bar and you pack out the heat ?  Wrong.   Instead, the winning,  albeit most likely tipsy gambler receives a voucher that they then take to a gun store, pass a background check, pay the license fees- then pack the heat.    

And, yesiree, there are some other strings attached:  Gamblers need to plunk down at least a buck twenty-five and they must be active O’Aces rewards club members. 

Hurry, don’t miss out on this gunslinging action.  There’s still time to win.  Several of their customers have won one royal flush, but not two of the winning hands- yet. 

Bottoms up!

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$1 Billion M Resort Grand Opening in Las Vegas

M-irage, M-andalay Bay, and M-GM Grand…M Resort Opens

And now – drum roll, please – a brand new Las Vegas “M”:   At 10 p.m. on Sunday, M-arch 1, the M-arnell family rolled their economic dice,  threw caution to the wind, as their 1,800 happily employed employees officially opened their new doors to 4,000 eager guests.   Opening fanfare included a fireworks and water and fire show to highlight their $1 billion M Resort and Casino grand opening.   Actually, it’s not even located in Las Vegas but on South Las Vegas Boulevard in Henderson, Nevada about 9 miles south of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign on the Strip.  The latest star to the Vegas resort landscape is being promoted as the best sta-cation destination for Las Vegas Valley locals and visitors that want to get off the well-traveled Las Vegas casino corridor.  

The first feature visitors to The M Resort casino floor will notice is the natural lighting.  That’s right – there are skylights on the casino floor that shine the Las Vegas sun down on the 92,000 square feet of video poker, slot machines and gaming tables including the M Resort’s own Jewelry Box Slots.  

Each of the 390 guest rooms offer floor-to-ceiling windows with incredible Strip and desert views.  And unlike most Strip hotels, the M Resort offers free resort wide wi-fi, in-room iPod docking stations and nightly turn-down service. 

M Resort OpensTheir 100,000-square-foot pool is incredible, providing a feeling of being in a canyon. 

Guests may also indulge in the luxuriating Organic Oasis Wrap at Spa Mio, dine at Marinelli’s Italian restaurant (one of nine restaurants) and enjoy a concert at the Villaggio Del Sole or in the Ravello lounge.  From the Hostile Grape wine cellar to the Babycakes Artisan Bakery to the 60,000 square feet of meeeting space – the M Resort is sure to have a taste that will entice you to stay.

 The M Resort come late fourth quarter 2009 will be joined in Las Vegas by the new $2.9 billion planned Fountainebleau resort and the $8.6 billion CityCenter project.

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Las Vegas is THE Place for Super Bowl Partying

superbowlThere is no better place to take in all the football gridiron action this Sunday at Super Bowl XLIII then to watch and join in on the many parties in sunny Las Vegas.   There are lots of options to choose among before the kickoff between the Arizona Cardinals and the favorite Pittsburg Steelers.  (But for a championship game like this you can throw out favoritism, as anything can, and usually does, happen.)

Action kicks off not on game day Sunday, but Saturday when Kenny “The Snake” Stabler, who led the Raiders to a Super Bowl XI victory in 1977, and Jim Plunkett, who led the Raiders to two Super Bowl victories in the ’80s, will be on hand to greet and mingle with fans at the Sportsbook Bar and Grill at The Palazzo.   

Then, Notre Dame football legend and motivational speaker Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger will be appearing at the Orleans on Saturday, Jan. 31.

The Las Vegas Hilton plans to offer Super Bowl viewing on many 25-foot HD TVs using their state-of-the-art sound system at the Hilton Theater.
 
Not to be outdone, the Rockhouse Bar & Nightclub will host the game with a 100-ounce super-yards mega-cocktail. 

The New York-New York Casino will offer many delectable foods while having game action show on 165 televisions placed throughout the ESPN Zone restaurant.

After the victor is declared, there will many Las Vegas hotspots entertaining until the wee hours of the morning.   The new Encore will have partying going all hours in their new XS nightclub, as will non-stop action at the LAX at the Luxor, Pure nightclub, and the Rain nightclub at the Palms. 

Also, at the Palms rocker Bret Michaels and his “Rock of Love” girls will have an 8 p.m. performance at the Pearl. 

 

For a little comedy infusion after the game, consider attending the “Improv All Stars” showcase at MGM Grand.  Jerry Sienfeld, Drew Carey, and a host of top name entertainers will be on hand for their Super Bowl of Comedy.

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Resorts Continue to Build in Las Vegas

Despite our economy, there still is much casino and hotel room construction going on in Las Vegas. In fact, nearly 13,000 hotel rooms remain under construction in 2009.

The $2.9 billion Fontainebleau mega-resort is planned to open late this year.  It features 3,815 rooms and suites; 27 restaurants and bars; a 7-acre pool deck with four pools; a 350,000-square-foot shopping area called the Runway; and a spa with 55 treatment rooms.  That’s a mouthful.

The Silverton Casino Lodge is undergoing a $130-million expansion including adding pools, a high-limit gaming salon and 800 slot machines.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino expects to add 950 guest rooms and expand the pool, while adding more meeting space.

The $1-billion M Resort is heading toward a March 1 opening of its 390 guest rooms and a 100,000-square-foot pool that gives the feel of being in a canyon.

Finally, construction continues on Las Vegas’ 900-lb gorilla, CityCenter, an $8.6-billion development slotted to open in late 2009.  Hotels in the project include the 4,000-room, 61-story Aria Resort & Casino; a 400-room Mandarin Oriental, the first in Las Vegas; and Vdara, an all-suite condo/hotel project with more than 1,500 units. Structural issues have delayed the opening of CityCenter’s Harmon Hotel.

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World Series of Poker Adds $40,000 Buy-In Game in Las Vegas

The 40th edition of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas at the Rio will begin play May 27 and include a one-time commemorative $40,000 buy-in no-limit hold ’em tournament to mark the tournament’s 40th anniversary. 

The $10,000 buy-in World Championship No-Limit Hold’em Main Event will begin play on July 3 and reach its final table of nine players on July 15.  Then the players will wait four months before returning to the Rio on November 7 through 10 to play for the championship that will be televised on ESPN on a same-day taped delay. 

Officials from Harrah’s Entertainment, which has owned and operated the World Series of Poker since 2004, hope the 2009 tournament will exceed the record-breaking revenue of the 2008 event, which had 58,720 players from 124 countries participating and awarded a prize pool of more than $180.7 million and awarded 55 gold bracelets for individual championships.

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Las Vegas’ New Cocktail: Neon & Mountain Spritzer

Unbenounced to throngs of Las Vegas casino denizens that seldom shift their gaze up from the one-armed bandits staring in front of them, a unique change of pace environment for fun and frolicking is emerging in Las Vegas.  It is a radical – some say refreshing – departure from the blinding neon and glitz of our valley.

And it’s also that special kind of place where local Las Vegans wouldn’t tell their visitors about it, because then they’d have to pop them to insure the word about the good find doesn’t get out to others.   But Bugsy Siegel is long dead.  (He is, right?)  Safely releasing the cat out of the bag – I hope – the alpine getaway is . . . drum roll . . .Mount Charleston, located about an hour’s drive north from downtown Las Vegas.mountcharleston

But the travel news is much more than just another scenic day trip.  The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the scenic 64-room Mount Charleston Hotel is being renamed to the Resort on Mount Charleston, and the facility, originally built in the 1980s, is getting a major facelift including the current building of a new gym that will face out to the canyon, and renovations to the bar, dining areas, and spa.  The spiffed-up resort guest suites are planned to feature such amenities as kitchenettes, granite counters, mini-refrigerators, wine refrigerators, ovens, ranges, and even flat-screen TVs. 

And you thought Las Vegas was just for gamblers?   (But for those of you reading this and are getting a nasty flair up of gambling shakes, there are limited video poker machines on the property now with plans for expanding gaming.)

In our challenging economic times, it’s a business risk for Stephen Siegel, owner of the Resort on Mount Charleston, and Michael Crandall, the director of business for the Siegel Group.  But they have an innovative – brilliant – marketing idea:  In addition to expanding their traditional advertising methods to draw new clients, they want to link the Resort on Mount Charleston into listings on Las Vegas hotel-booking websites in search of new customers who want to visit Las Vegas but stay in a more serene or non-Strip setting.  They also want to establish a rewards program that links their resort to their other Las Vegas properties – the Gold Spike apartment complexes and Barcelona hotel-casino – to draw even more potential visitors.

In tough times, the tough always get going.  Godspeed to the Siegel Group.

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