Robert “Muggsy” Muniz passed away last evening from an apparent heart attack according to a post by John Kelly on the eog.com forum. He was 63.
Muniz was the long-time director of racebook operations at the Barbary Coast (now the Cromwell) and later Coast Resorts when owner Michael Gaughan added the Gold Coast and Orleans to his portfolio. He left in 2001 after nearly 22 years in that position.
During his tenure the affable Muniz, known to nearly every race and sportsbook customer in Las Vegas simply as Muggsy, was outspoken about what he liked and didn’t like in the industry. He encouraged the growth of the then-fledgling business of horse racing simulcasts and was active in the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association, which negotiates simulcasting contracts with racetracks.
Muniz was also an innovator and was one of the first racebook operators to offer handicapping contests. He also was a pioneer of the horseplayer rebate, which gave big players some of their money back. The program was so popular several racetracks, especially those in California, complained of losing big betting customers, causing their handle to suffer. The practice was eventually stopped when Nevada passed a law to make them illegal for horse betting.
At the time of his death, Muniz resided in Acworth, Georgia where he devoted much of his time to coaching the North Georgia Heat, an AAU basketball team.
“He was a kind and generous man,” said Gordon Berger whose son was coached by Muniz. “Many of the boys who played for his teams had no money, so he’d pay their way. He helped a lot of boys get college basketball scholarships too.”
A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 26, at 2 p.m. at the Darby Funeral Home chapel. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. until the funeral hour. Interment will be held in Monongahela Cemetery, Monongahela, Pennsylvania at a later date.
Muniz is survived by his son, Robert Zane Muniz, Atlanta, Georgia; brothers Joe (Martha) Muniz, Donora, Pennsylvania, and Fred (Barbara) Muniz, Norfolk, Virginia; and sister Dolly (Chuck) Vaira, North Las Vegas, Nevada.
A fundraiser has been set up to assist with funeral expenses: https://www.crowdrise.com/in-loving-memory-of-mugsy-muniz1/fundraiser/jaredstapleton
Eileen DiRocco is the owner and publisher of GamingToday, the bible for gaming news “you can bet on.” Contact Eileen at [email protected].