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May 1999 Article

Exclusively Found in the Insider Viewpoint of Las Vegas

"Vegas Chickens or
Lock Betting Only?”

By: Frank Rosenthal

By the end of this millennium, Las Vegas, Boomtown USA, will sport over 130,000 Hotel/Casino rooms.   The latest and most elegant entry that will reign supreme over the Las Vegas strip is the newly crowned jewel  Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. Located at the very center of the Las Vegas Strip on the former site of the legendary Sands Hotel this super structure tuned from Venice Italy has a projected construction price tag floating around $2.5 billion.  Phase one includes 3,036 suites with 2,500 slots and most every game known to man.  Phase two will add 3,000 more suites with additional 2,500 one armed bandits.  Every conceivable attraction aimed to lure you on board including a sensuous weight watcher paradise.  Make no mistake about it, these Venice/ Las Vegas Barons know when and where to "Let it Ride."  The Race & Sports books will offer players more comfort, luxury and state of the art magic than Siegfried & Roy.

The new resort casinos are splendid and lavish beyond description.  Add the continuous thrills of all your favorite casino games, friendly dealers and atmosphere second to none.   No better place to play then Las Vegas! Don’t you believe it; they’re looking to send you home in a body bag!

Mega Resorts does not equal Mega Sports Betting!  Time to make a bet and you’re a high roller.  Pari-mutuel wagering, you can bet what you weigh, dwarfs or Sumo wrestlers the sky is the limit.   Full track odds with no limits! Pick your favorite pony and name your pleasure.   $1 million or higher, sounds cool but here’s the trap. Unlike casino gaming, where you’re betting against the house, this venture becomes cozy.  Now you’re betting against everybody else within the pool including yourself and your dollar becomes substantially devalued.  Unknowingly, you became the bookmaker; the house took a powder!

Ready for some sports betting with sky-high limits on your favorite team?  Now that’s a horse of a different color.   There isn’t a sports book parlor in the entire state that will allow you to wing it.  Maybe the Venetian moguls will change the way those "Smart Chickens" deal. Uniformly they refuse to allow the player any chance to ring their bell, in spite of the fact that the ranch won’t be foreclosed if you’re lucky enough to score.  They hold king size bankrolls; overwhelming advantages, yet they’re just not willing to allow you a square shot when the game of chance is not a slam dunk for the home team.

Let us look back into history.   Not that many years ago a couple of friends and I were tracking a New Years Day Bowl Game.  I called a sports book looking to play quite high.  Here’s exactly the way it happened, simple and efficiently.  "Run down the menu please." "Okay # 101."  As Bob methodically ran the line I stopped him when he came to my target.  "I’ll take Slippery Rock minus 7 for the limit please."  "Okay #101 you have Slippery Rock minus 7 for 100 DIMES."    I then inquired, "what are you going to make it now?"  The gentleman bookmaker moved the line by a mere half point after accepting a limit wager of $100,000.00.  I hit him again, same side, same limit.  He repeated the action, I acknowledged okay. The conversation ended this way. "Thank you #101."

Just recently a good friend of mine and one of the original "Wise Guys" told me of his experiences.   "Frank, I had a good tip on a pony, drove all over town, ended up at the Barbary Coast, and they reluctantly gave me a ticket for $20.00 bucks."   "I’m lucky they didn’t call security or 86 me."  "Not just the Barbary, they’re all the same." 

I inquired, "how about the Hilton and their Super Book."  "Forget it."  "What about the Mirage?"  "They’ll deal higher, but also scared."  "How about baseball or football?"  "They play faces; if you’re labeled an apple (sucker) they’ll take a descent bet."

"If you're half sharp the ground rules change."  "College football 2 to 3 dimes (thousands), the pro games, anywhere from 5 to 10 dimes."  "If your looking to play on totals the limit is only a couple of dimes at most."  If it’s not a lock they don’t want to play!  Sports’ betting is not an exact science; therefore the casinos play it close to the vest.

Las Vegas style gaming has taken a step backwards and may very well pay the price somewhere down the line, as gambling becomes more acceptable and widespread throughout the world.  Today they enjoy the proverbial lock, but nothing lasts forever.  When states like California, New York or Florida awaken and recognize the reality of countries landscape changes become inevitable.   They’re virtually surrounded by border states who are reaping in million upon millions from there own populous enjoying the taxation that equals prosperity and the real superhighway for their constituents.  Higher salaries for schoolteachers, law enforcement, and a superior infrastructure.

The benefits to the states are endless given practical regulatory guidelines by knowledgeable and experienced professionals.  The opponents for legalized gaming contend that widespread gaming will corrupt the morale character of the nation through addiction forcing the masses towards skid row.  That’s a hollow and baseless argument.  No one is going to prevent or halt the future and speed of World-Class gaming.  It’s the people’s choice and the public will be served eventually!

When the Horseshoe and Stardust Casinos were healthy and organized the playing field was more level rather then disproportionate.  Nobody beats the casinos, we knew it.  Our marketing strategies were basic and simple.  Grind rather then gouge, genuine hospitality, personalized service, delightful food priced for the customer rather then the casino with diversified entertainment and friendly personnel at all levels.  The message board read, "Kill ‘em with Kindness." Today’s casino blackboards read, "Never Give a Sucker an Even Break."

Rumor row.  The mystery $1 Million that allegedly was placed on Holyfield just a few hours prior to the Holyfield/Lewis fiasco.  Did It happen?  You couldn’t spread that much money around Las Vegas if you had 100 runners and 24-hour lead-time.  Years ago perhaps, in today’s Las Vegas it’s a whole new ball game. Keno, one-armed bandits, the big six, poker parlors, blackjack, baccarat, roulette, pit bosses clocking and hawking your action.

Good luck, avoid the ponies and the misleading advertising.  You can win a race but you can’t beat the races.   Stay tuned; see you next month, same time, same friendly locations.

P.S. The Venetian Hotel/Casino with all of its splendor and prime location will undoubtedly become the hottest ticket in town.   Had I been in the "War" room during the conceptual planning stage I would have included a dedicated Tower devoted towards research and rehabilitation for substance abuse.  A genuine World Class Medical Center would have attracted a customer wait list into the Twenty-First-Century.  Just think about it, recovery, kicks, and methadone from "Venice with Love." What a patent; maybe I’ll file.

Frank Rosenthal


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