Palms’ casino has hot ‘Tip’ton at the helm

Aug 7, 2001 6:22 AM

Jimmy Tipton’s first dream came 28 years ago when he sold his house in Steubenville, Ohio, hitched a trailer to his Cadillac and headed for a chance at success in Las Vegas.

His second dream begins in December at The Palms.

“This is a new opportunity, a new adventure and I am really excited about being here,” Tipton said after being named director of casino marketing at the 42-story, 470-room hotel that may reach $500 to 600 million to build upon completion.

“The Palms will be a very hip, cool, sexy environment that will appeal to young and old,” Tipton said. “My customers will be late 20s to 65. Lots were born and raised on rock and roll, but we go for all types of music.”

Tipton was 23 years old and working for the real estate board Columbus when he decided to sell his house and head for the sunny Southwest.

“When I called my friend in Las Vegas during the winter and heard him say he was working on his tan, I knew it was time to go,” Tipton said. “There were snowflakes the size of half-dollars where I was. So I came out to Vegas in 1973 at 3 a.m. and was working that night dealing craps at a local casino.

Tipton learned the casino business from the “old school” guys and feels he has a unique perception of Las Vegas, having worked previously as a manager for the old Aladdin and Hard Rock Hotels.

“I am definitely a mixture of old and new Vegas,” Tipton said. “To be hired by a class group of guys as the Maloof brothers is a great opportunity for me.”

Tipton believes competition stimulates business, so looking from his temporary office across Flamingo Road at the Rio and Gold Coast Resorts on a daily basis is bound to spark incentive.

“There’s nothing wrong with smiling. “Being off the Strip doesn’t hurt us. It probably gives us an identity. I have been around the casinos nearly my whole life.”

Tipton said it was too soon to discuss his formula for slot success, suggesting that owner George Maloof would be best to handle that for now.

“I am not sure how the slot club will work yet, but George had the No. 1 slot club when he was at the Fiesta,” he said. “We will have one of the best sports books, 14 movie theaters and 2,200 slot machines.”

The Palms was Maloof’s brainchild, ever since attending college at UNLV and going on to own the Fiesta.

“I sold the Fiesta six months ago in order to involve myself in a deal that was four years in the making,” said Maloof, who with his brothers own the NBA Sacramento Kings. “I have known Tipton for quite some time. Jim Hughes, my general manager, felt real comfortable about bringing him aboard and I agreed. It will be a fresh start for him.”

Not bad for a steel-mill kid growing up in Steubenville.

“Dean Martin grew up in Steubenville and did all right in this town,” Tipton said.

: Steubenville, Ohio
Age: 52
Marital status: Single, divorced
Family: Daughter Sheli (29), three grandchildren (Holly, 9; Michael 3, Brian 1).
Hotel background: Old Aladdin and Hard Rock
Goals: Wants The Palms to be “a very hip, cool, sexy environment that will appeal to young and old. I am definitely a mixture of old and new Vegas.”
Philosophy: “I don’t know what I would have done if not in the casino business. Whatever it would have been, I would have done it good.”