MAGIC MAN LOSING MAGIC? “I think so,” said a pipe. “I’ve always been a fan of the Magic Man, but I think he was poorly advised showing up at a much ballyhooed press conference wearing a mask. Humor works most of the time. But in troubled times, it falls flat on its face.
“What prompted this comment to you was a conversation I overheard at the airport. One visitor explained that things are so bad in Vegas, even Steve Wynn has to wear a mask. Now, I know, as well as you, this is taken out of context. But, nonetheless, his humor fell short of its mark,” The pipe concluded.
THREE CHEERS FOR DONNIE! “If you’re not in Las Vegas, you’re not in the big leagues,” Don Barden told the Nevada Gaming Commission last week in Carson City where he received final approval to purchase the Fitzgerald’s property in downtown Las Vegas, as well as two other casinos in Colorado and Mississippi.
Barden becomes the only African-American to own a casino in Las Vegas, but he’s no stranger to the gaming industry. For the past five years, he has been operating the successful Majestic Star riverboat in Gary, Ind., as a neighbor to Donald Trump.
When licenses were being awarded in Detroit, Mich., Barden, a Detroit entrepreneur was among the applicants. Many city residents felt Barden should have received special consideration, but reports at the time indicated that he was politically estranged from the city’s power structure.
Now, he gets a chance to be in the big leagues and we hope he is hugely successful.
THOSE EMPTY HALLOWED HALLS! “Have you been to Reno lately,” asked a pipe?
“If you haven’t then you’ll probably be in for a surprise. What used to be the ”˜Biggest Little City in the world’ may now qualify as one of the loneliest cities in the world.
“Yes, it was mid-week and it was afternoon and early evening, I admit, but still places like Circus Circus, Silver Legacy and Harrah’s were practically empty. The only place doing real good business was Cal-Neva.
“And, just a few days before it was closing for who knows how long, the recently sold Flamingo Hilton had more employees than they had customers.
“Underscoring the problem, it seemed, was the buffet at Harrah’s. They were offering prime rib, shrimp and Alaskan crab for $9.99 a head. That menu would cost you at least 50% more in Las Vegas yet, there were only a few people in line at 7:30 p.m.
“Reno is more a drive-in town than an airline people-mover so you’ve got to wonder just how strong an impact those California casinos are having,” the pipe concluded.
ON THE BUY! Donald Trump, chairman of Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (DJT), ponied up nearly a quarter of a million dollars to purchase 119,800 shares of Trump at prices ranging from $1.50 to $1.90 a share.
Is that putting your money where your mouth is?
BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL? Midnight Oil Co., operator of nightclubs in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, is headed for Las Vegas. The company will open its fifth nightclub in the nation at Green Valley Ranch when it opens Dec. 18.
It will be called the “Whiskey Sky” Nightclub and will be located inside the casino and at an outdoor pool area with private cabanas, a bar and gaming tables.
Said a rosebud: “Midnight Oil describes its clubs as ”˜hip, sophisticated gathering places that offer both intimacy and action . . . an exclusive social atmosphere.’
TALK ABOUT NO CONTEST! The House voted 412-1 to approve the money-laundering bill without the Internet gambling restriction. Oddly, the House Financial Services Committee voted 37-25 to keep the online wagering controls in the bill, which aims to prevent money laundering by terrorists.
IN THE HOME STRETCH! National Airlines, which has operated under bankruptcy protection since late last year, said it expects to conclude a reorganization plan within a month.
“It expects to file a plan by Nov. 9 and hopes the court will approve by Dec. 28,” said spokesman Dik Shimizu.
It was learned that the company has been in deep talks with investors led by leasing giant International Lease Finance Corp., a unit of American International Group Inc. (AIG).
“I believe National is quite confident it will qualify for federal loan guarantees being offered by the federal government to help the ailing airline industry,” said an in-the-knowster.
National, which operates service between several major cities and Las Vegas, expects to resume its full flight schedule by year-end. It was forced to cut services by about 20% after the 9/11 attack.
MAYBE THEY’RE OVERDOING THE SCARE! “All the patron at a popular locals casino wanted to do was use the restroom,” a local pipe told us. “Swirling through his mind ”” and surely the minds of thousands of other Las Vegans ”” were the constant television stories about anthrax and the numbers of people testing positive for it.
“Anyway, he heads to the john and when he pulls at the toilet paper roll, out comes a powdery substance.
“The guy just passes out.
“Security was called by another patron who heard the man fall and they revived him.
“What appeared to be a powdery substance probably was nothing more than a small accumulation of disintegrated paper that got stuck in the roll when it was being manufactured, but security planned to check everything out just to make sure,” said our local observer.
ON THE GROW! Indian gambling has exploded in California. Over the past decade tribal operations have grown to 46 Nevada-style casinos, including eight in San Diego County. Nineteen other reservations have signed compacts that allow them to build casinos whenever they are ready.