Posts Tagged ‘gambling’

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Las Vegas Lists

July 12, 2008

I was doing some research the other day and stumbled across lists of things about Las Vegas that I thought might interest readers.   For the whole history of Las Vegas in Wikipedia go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Vegas,_Nevada

Here are a few interesting anomalies for you:

LIST OF THE NAMES OF CASINOS THAT NEVER OPENED

“Addams Family” Themed Resort, Asia Resort and Casino, Beau Rivage, Caribbean Casino Cascada, City by the Bay Resort and CasinoCountryland USACrown Las VegasDeVille CasinoHarley-Davidson Hotel and Casino, Jockey Club Casino, London Resort and Casino, Montreux ResortMoon Resort and CasinoPalace of the Sea Resort and Casino, Titanic (that one would have hit a few snags), Unnamed “Haunted House” Casino,  “South Beach” Casino, World Trade Center (that would have been a real bad idea),  World Wrestling Federation (that one came close), Xanadu, and my own fantasy favorite “The Unknown Comic Casino” where everyone wears bags on their heads with holes for the eyes, nose, and mouth.

Movies Shot in Las Vegas

1960 Ocean’s Eleven

1964 Viva Las Vegas

 

1971 Diamonds Are Forever

 

1982 Things Are Tough All Over

 

1984 Starman

 

1986 Desert Bloom

 

1988 Rain Man

 

1992 Cool World

 

1992 Honey, I Blew Up the Kid

 

1994 The Stand

 

1995 Casino

 

1995 Leaving Las Vegas

 

1995 Showgirls

 

1996 Mars Attacks!

 

1997 Vegas Vacation

 

1997 Con Air

 

1997 Fools Rush In

 

1997 Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

 

1998 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

 

1998 Lethal Weapon 4

 

1999 Siegfried & Roy: The Magic Box

 

2000 Pay it Forward

 

2001 Rush Hour 2

 

2001 Ocean’s Eleven

 

2001 Rat Race

 

2001 The Mexican

 

2001 Memento

 

2001 America’s Sweetheart

 

2002 Getting There

 

2003 The Cooler

 

2004 Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story

 

2005 Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous

 

2005 Lucky You

 

2006 Rocky Balboa

 

2007 Ocean’s Thirteen

 

2006 ‘21’

 

10 Famous Weddings in Las Vegas

1.  Perhaps the most famous wedding ever to commence under the Vegas sky was between the King himself, Elvis Presley, and Priscilla Anne Beaulieu.

2.  A mere four years before her untimely death, actress Judy Garland married Mark Herron in 1965.

3.  In the spring of 1989, rock star Jon Bon Jovi married Dorothea Hurley in the heart of Las Vegas.

4.  Ringing in the 1990’s was heavy metal legend and king of procrastination Axl Rose marrying Erin Evelyn at Cupid’s Wedding Chapel.

5.  Former NBA superstar and rebounder extraordinaire Dennis Rodman married actress and supermodel Carmen Electra in November of 1998.

6.  In one of the most unlikely weddings imaginable, Billy Bob Thornton tied the knot with Tomb Raider goddess Angelina Jolie in Vegas on May 5, 2000.

7.  Famous Actor Mickey Rooney married Eva Gardner in January of 1942.

8. Film star and Vietnam War protestor Jane Fonda made headlines in 1991 when she married billionaire TV mogul Ted Turner.

9.  In 1966, Rat Pack member Frank Sinatra entered into a year and half long marriage to Mia Farrow in Las Vegas.

10. In 1989, 26 tear old NBA icon Michael Jordan married 30 year old Juanita Vanoy at the Little White Wedding Chapel.

Las Vegas Personalities

  • Andre Agassi Native tennis player philanthropist
  • Ashlyn Gere Pornography Star of the late 1980’s
  • Bobby Baldwin Non-Native poker player and casino executive 
  • Benny Binion Non-Native owner of the Horseshoe casino
  • Joey Bishop Non-Native entertainer The Rat Pack
  • Sam Boyd Non-Native casino owner
  • Toni Braxton Non-Native recording artist
  • David Brenner Non-Native comedian
  • Kurt Busch Native race car driver, NASCAR 
  • Kyle Busch Native race car driver, NASCAR 
  • Charlie Callis Native comic 
  • Charisma Carpenter Native actress 
  • Daveigh Chase Native actress 
  • Spencer Clark Native race car driver, NASCAR 
  • Rico Constantino Native wrestler
  • Randall Cunningham Non-Native football player
  • Tony Curtis Non-Native actor 
  • Jay Cutler Non-Native IFBB Professional Bodybuilder Mr. Olympia
  • Laura Dahl Native fashion designer
  • Moe Dalitz Non-Native developer casino owner/executive (Desert Inn)
  • Ricky Davis Native basketball player 
  • Sammy Davis, Jr. Non-Native singer and entertainer The Rat Pack
  • Becky Delos Santos Non-Native model, Playboy Playmate
  • Leah Dizon Native model, singer 
  • Brandon Flowers Native musician The Killers
  • Siegfried Fischbacher Non-Native entertainer Siegfried & Roy
  • Tony Fredianelli Non-Native Musician Third Eye Blind guitarist
  • John C. Fremont Non-Native explorer
  • Danny Gans Non-Native Impersonator
  • Brendan Gaughan Non-Native race car driver, NASCAR 
  • Jason Giambi Non-Native baseball player 
  • Oscar Goodman Non-Native attorney defense attorney for mafia figures, Mayor of Las Vegas
  • Mikalah Gordon Native  American Idol contestant
  • Hank Greenspun Non-Native Newspaper publisher newspaper publisher and land developer
  • Matthew Gray Gubler Native Actor
  • Lonnie Hammargren Non-Native doctor, politician 
  • Carey Hart Native Pro Bmx Dirt Rider, motorcycle stunt rider 
  • Clint Holmes Non-Native singer, songwriter 
  • Roy Uwe Ludwig Horn Non-Native entertainer Siegfried & Roy
  • Howard Hughes Non-Native  billionaire casino owner and land developer
  • Jenna Jameson Native porn star
  • Corinna Harney Jones Non-Native actress Playboy playmate
  • Morris R. Jeppson Non-Native Second Lieutenant Enola Gay bombing of Hiroshima
  • Gladys Knight Non-Native singer, actress 
  • Jimmy Kimmel Non-Native comedian Jimmy Kimmel Live
  • Meyer Lansky Non-Native  mobster financier
  • Peter Lawford Non-Native actor The Rat Pack
  • Robin Leach Non-Native writer TV show host
  • Jerry Lewis Non-Native entertainer 
  • Liberace Non-Native entertainer 
  • Larry Johnson Non-Native basketball player, NBA
  • Stephanie Louden Native golfer, LPGA
  • Greg Maddux Native pitcher, Major League Baseball
  • Shawn Marion Non-Native forward, National Basketball Association played for UNLV
  • Dean Martin Non-Native singer and entertainer The Rat Pack
  • Angela Melini Non-Native actress, model, Playboy Playmate, entrepreneur
  • Pat Morita Non-Native actor
  • Vince Neil Non-Native singer Mötley Crüe
  • Wayne Newton Non-Native singer
  • Paige O’Hara Non-Native actress 
  • Elvis Presley Non-Native singer 
  • Debbie Reynolds Non-Native entertainer 
  • Sig Rogich Non-Native political consultant founder of R&R Advertising
  • Stephanie Romanov Native actress
  • Kevin Rose Native actor founder of digg.com & Rev 3
  • Frank Rosenthal Non-Native sports handicapper, casino manager 
  • Jay Sarno Non-Native developer Caesars Palace and Circus Circus
  • Adam Seward Native football player
  • Bugsy Siegel Non-Native mobster developer of the Flamingo
  • Frank Sinatra Non-Native singer The Rat Pack
  • Anthony Spilotro Non-Native Mafia enforcer
  • Shannon Stewart Non-Native model, Playboy Playmate
  • Mark Stoermer Native musician The Killers
  • Bob Stupak Non-Native Casino developer Stratosphere, Vegas World
  • Jerry Tarkanian Non-Native Basketball coach former UNLV Men’s Basketball Head Coach
  • Brian Thornton Non-Native developer of DoubleClick technology company, technology advocate
  • Robert Urich Non-Native actor television actor (Vega$)
  • Ronnie Vannucci Native musician The Killers
  • Del Webb Non-Native developer 
  • James Ronald Whitney Native film and television director
  • Don White Non-Native real estate developer 
  • Steve Wynn Non-Native developer The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio and Wynn Las Vegas
  • Barry Zito Native baseball player 

The lists could go on and on but that’s all for now.

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A Tale of Two Cities

May 8, 2008

This past weekend I was in Cape May to attend the wedding of one of my nieces.  I grew up in South Jersey and lived “at the shore” for many years B.C. (before casinos) in Atlantic City.  The old pier that housed Cafe Ole’ that I played at on Satuday nights is long gone replaced with multi-storied condos and the old rundown houses are now spiffy high-end Bed and Breakfast palaces.  The entire bride’s wedding party and family were housed in one of these gorgeous 10 bedroom mansions, complete with an elevator and view of the ocean’s waves breaking, providing a harmonious drone in the background.  Back in the seventies things were pretty grim.  Unemployment was over 12% and there was no future for most people coming out of college or high school unless your family absorbed you into their own business.  Then along came the promise of casino gambling.  The first referendum failed but a year later, once the bill was modified exclusively for casinos just in Atlantic City, it was passed as “a unique tool of urban redevelopment.”  More on this later.

The wedding was beautiful as the town it was held and the next day we went to Ocean City’s boardwalk to enjoy the sunny day before heading back home.  Ocean City is “America’s Resort” just as The Dallas Cowboys are “America’s Team.”  No alcohol allowed, the former Methodist retreat is loaded with families with young and innocent kids with hormones just kicking in and no where to go, so walking, mingling with their peers helps vent some of that angst away.  I spent many a night here, as did many of my high school friends, some of whom I immortalized in my book “Only Moments,” as we cavorted and danced the dance of sweet youth and lived on George’s cocoanut macaroons and Taylor pork roll sandwiches.

My brother-in-law and I have had long discussions about Atlantic City and the changes the town has seen through the years.  My first year of college was in The Mayflower Hotel on the boardwalk because Stockton State College hadn’t finished building on time to open in the fall.  Now….you want to talk party school?  Imagine a 17 year-old freshman sandwiched in between a Red-Light District on the right and a randy party-time gay community on the left, and the beach and boardwalk in the front. The stories are legendary and someday I’ll tell a few.  Nonetheless, my wife’s brother told me of the lack of business and layoffs in the town that 30 years later has absolutely no excuses for being anything but first rate, but never saw that promise come to fruition due to political power brokering, the lack of great customer service, paranioid stranglehold regulations on the casinos and the lack of leadership to force a complete renovation of the city and it’s slums.  That monopoly is now over.  To assist in their woes over the years they jacked-up prices on rooms, food, and the casino tables can’t be broached with less than $20 a hand on weekends. The city itself is still dangerous (I worked there for over 15 years, trust me) and the State of New Jersey has the audacity to make you pay to park to gamble your money away.  The outlying states have now figured out how easy this money can be made and why travel to Atlantic City to gamble?  After all, then Governor Brendan Bryne declared 30 years ago that “Atlantic City would never become like Las Vegas!”  So, ahem……there’s really no reason to go there other than gambling now is there?  Shopping abounds elsewhere, as do concerts, restuarants, etc.  So who’s crying now?  That you should even be worthy of shining Las Vegas’ shoes at this point, would be a plus to be quite frank.  Money taken-in is not a measure of success-it is the mystique of this city as well as the superior attitude and operations of the State of Nevada, Clark County, and our wonderful mayor Oscar Goodman that allow Las Vegas to remain competitive and thriving. Now that being said, here is a message for my former employing corporate entities:

Las Vegas Operators, learn from this mistake!  Don’t be so stupid as to think your lunch cannot be eaten by someone else.  You are not insulated from the world.  Stop trying to take every buck out of your customers.  Stop raising prices on rooms, food, entertainment, and by the way-while were talking about entertainment-try employing musical entertainment for patrons to hear free-yes, free, like it used to be all over this city.  You’ve been warned to wake up and take care of your customers.  Remember, they don’t have to come here, they have many other vacation options now.  Focus on customer service in fact, not in words and give them a reason to be here.  Any experienced casino operator will tell you it was inexpensive food, rooms, and loose slots that brought them here.  Just because Steve Wynn built the Mirage, doesn’t mean every new place has to be bathed in gold, mosaic tile, tidal waves and gorgeous Sirens, or Austrian Crystal.  Just make them to be enjoyed and you will continue to prosper without all that overhead!

As for New Jersey- Cape May, Ocean City, Avalon, Wildwood, Strathmere, and the like up and down the coast are waiting for your enjoyment without expecting you to spend your entire nest egg in one day.  Enjoy your treasures of nature, they are priceless!  Imagine if we had beachfront property here………maybe after the big one…….just kidding!

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I’m Alright (Black)Jack Keep Your Hands Off My Stack

April 12, 2008

Friday night-the place is bustling with check-ins, show goers, hungry people, and optimistic gamblers looking to break the bank (or at least make enough to walk out a winner).  My sister-in-law works here and wanted to go to a show her husband didn’t want to attend so my wife went with her and because she had pulled some neck muscles a few days earlier, I drove her there to be safe.  I needed to kill a little over two hours so I decided to be one of those optimistic gamblers.  My grub stake was all of $100 and I put myself in the frame of mind that if I lost it, then I was entertained for 2 hours or so. 

I dove into the morass and noticed the Mega-Bucks machine showing a payout of over $19 million simoleans.  Well “ya gotta play to win” as the old New Jersey Lottery once declared, so I dumped $40 into the machine and played for ten minutes until it consumed all the money.  “Okay, so what?” I said to myself as I really wasn’t happy that I had another 130 minutes left to kill.  So, I said to myself, “Self, blackjack is the answer,” and began to scout the tables for the first or last seat on a $10 table.  I choose either one of those seats purposely in somewhat of a vain attempt to try and make sure some measure of basic strategy is adhered, at least on those critical positions when the dealer is showing a bust card.  Of course the fact that I was at the low limit table meant that inexperienced players would eventually show up and screw the pooch completely, but that’s “the way it is for low limit gamblin’ son.”

I hit four, count em, four blackjacks in a row to start and was shocked. As time went on, the ebb and flow continued to increase and diminish my stack until the dealer won 10 straight hands with ridiculous pulls of five and six card twenty-one’s against my hard twenties and the like.  I was down to my initial stake of $100 and had been playing for over 90 minutes and decided that his run was over and began betting $25 a hand.  Lady Luck smiled on me and ten minutes later I was up $300.  Then it happened.  Mr. John Doe and his wife arrives on the table and begins the mayhem of splitting tens against a dealer’s eight showing, splitting two fours against the dealer’s seven, doubling down on sevens and eights, etc. Then when the husband hits blackjack and the dealer shows an ace and offers him an even money bet, that is an option before he checked to see if he had blackjack.  Hubby couldn’t fathom what that was no matter how many times the dealer and others explained it. Finally I said, “look, you can take the sure thing of winning one times your bet, or you can wait and see if he has blackjack and if he doesn’t you get one and a half times your bet.  I still don’t think he got it, and he took the even money and of course the dealer didn’t have blackjack so he was pissed at everyone.  The nice buzz I had from the two cocktails abruptly wore off and watched as my stack lowered and my blood pressure rose.  The table begins to become hostile towards these two novices as they will not even take advice from the dealer now.  I cash out $200 up and walk.  I had enough being a part of the painful experience.  I still have 20 minutes before the show ends so again I try Mega-Bucks.  I put in $100 and start playing when the woman next to me hits for $6,000.  Hmmm, could be good sign, could be a bad sign like the song goes “if it wasn’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all,” but tonight was different.  There was a little magic in the air, so I continued to bang the button spinning the wheels on the max bet. 

There is this urban rumor that a man was playing Mega-Bucks and had to go to the bathroom and told his wife to keep playing to hold the machine until he came back.  When he came back she had hit the three Mega-Bucks signs for the whole jackpot and he went nuts and a huge crowd gathered and cheered them on, but then when the slot attendants came over they pointed out that the wife had only played $1 not the maximum $3 he had been playing all night so he didn’t win the 20 million.  The story goes that they had to restrain him from hitting her and escorted her out the casino.  I doubt that ever happened but it’s a good story.

In any case, Lady Luck smiled on me as I hit for over $400 in less than 10 minutes and walked away a winner.  Now, if I factor in how much I’ve lost…..no, let’s forget about that for now and savor the moment.  It doesn’t usually last long.

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Cheap Thrills On A Very Vegasy Afternoon

April 11, 2008

A TYPICAL SMOKIN\' VEGAS JAZZ PIANIST

A TYPICAL SMOKIN’ JAZZ PLAYER FROM VEGAS

Many people decry the lack of inexpensive alternatives to the current costs of enjoying oneself in the “new” Las Vegas.  Vegas used to be a town of cheap rooms, inexpensive food, and free entertainment.  But all that’s been changing since the sixties when they figured out they could take the talent in the lounges, build a closed-in theater, put the acts in there and start charging admission.  Little by little as the town progressed to a corporate bean-counting oasis and the mob self-destructed, things that were free or cheap disappeared.  Of course now Strip land is worth $40 million an acre and the costs of greed flow downward. 

Regardless, here’s a great way to spend a lovely afternoon for less than $10 for two.
 Find your way to the new Palazzo Hotel and admire the beautiful granite and marble accoutrements, a two-story waterfall, as well as the gorgeous artwork and design that CEO and founder Sheldon Adelson is noted for since he constructed the building of the adjacent Venetian Hotel Casino.  The Palazzo Hotel connects directly to the Canal Shops in the Venetian and one can access either property quite easily.  The one thing that you notice about the Palazzo that is different than most casino areas is the wide open floor plan with more than enough room to move and a very good ventilation system.  As the stench of the cigarette smoke is impossible to eliminate altogether it is a vast improvement on all other gambling joints. 

You never do know what you’re going to see on any given day.  The day we were there we kept running into a dozen drop-dead gorgeous contestants for the Miss USA pageant, as they were shopping and simultaneously being filmed, and escorted by a bevy of security guards.  Directly above the Palazzo casino floor Emeril Lagasse’s “Table 10” restaurant, high end jewelry stores and accessory boutiques, and the Double Helix bar were open for business but other stores were still under construction.  Smooth jazz emanated through the area as a pianist and bassist played unmindful of their surroundings.  Walking on, my wife and I stopped into Barney’s of New York so she could look at $8,000 dresses and $1200 shoes.  The salespeople seem grateful for any traffic as there were a few buyers that day.  We then made our way up the escalator to the Canal shops.  We stopped at Godiva chocolates and split a tasty peanut-butter filled chocolate to the tune of four dollars-pricey but Heaven in small bites.  Walking through a replica of St. Mark’s Square, a crowd gathered around a living statue dressed in pure white and whiteface and people posed with him taking pictures and leaving generous tips.  At the Peter Lik Photographic Gallery we spent time gazing at his beautiful imagery, recognizing many of the places that we ourselves had been on these huge enlargements of scenic wonder.

We walked past the many shops and of course watched the gondolas go by and stopped for a cappuccino and banana nut muffin.  We sat and people-watched as the ultra rich, beauty queens, and normal people bustled by, all on their own singular quests.  The shops there are quite diverse from Venetian glass and ceramics to high-end lingerie, Magic shops and modern art to gowns and denim.  All said and done we spent a little less than $10, and didn’t even have to spend that, for an interesting and fun afternoon.  So you see, a cheap date is possible here and having lived here now for close to 15 years, it’s still never ceases to amaze me how incredible this town really is.

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VEGAS VIG WEEKLY

March 29, 2008

Weird Scenes Inside A Gold Mine 

This is the first in a series of weekly blogs that will try to capture the irony and spirit of “a city gone wild” in a perspective that will show different types of lifestyles, concert and show reviews, nutty people and the things that happen to them, and a contemporary view of this Twenty-first century gold rush that shows no sign of stopping.  Thanks for tuning in to the first entry and please feel free to comment on anything.  The first blog will be short and sweet until I can get everything worked out.  WordPress does not make any of this very easy and with another blog it is very confusing to get anything done quickly.  Bear with me, I’ll make it worth your while once I can get the “look” established.  

Have a lucky day!