No tears shed over Wiseguy exodus

Nov 13, 2001 8:21 AM

BOOKIES DON’T MISS THE WISEGUYS: Although sports betting reached a seven-year low in Nevada (see our page one story), the bookmakers aren’t crying. In fact, most are content with the over-regulated system.

“Most of these guys are happy to avoid the risk of booking a big bet,” said a former Strip bookmaker. “Ever since the corporate suits took over, bookies have been walking on egg shells with every high-stakes bet.”

In fact, the in-the-knowster continued, the director of one of the city’s premier bet shops readily admits he could care less about “wise guy action,” and that he’s content to serve as another casino

But hasn’t Nevada regulators driven away bettors with restrictions on runners, phone bets and game limits?

“Of course they have, but you never saw any bookies protesting when the board held workshops. When the casino bosses want something, they show up and complain. They didn’t move a muscle to save big-time sports betting.”

NOBODY’S TALKING BUT”¦” Everybody’s been asking which Strip property benefited so greatly from a high table hold during the month of September,” said a keen Las Vegas observer.

“After all, as some analysts have pointed out, September should have been a lot worse than minus 5% considering that slot play was lower by 9%. What brought the numbers up was a fantastic 29% hold at the baccarat tables.

“September fell in the third quarter of MGM MIRAGE (MGG), Park Place Entertainment Corp. (PPE), and the Venetian, so it is believed that the major benefactor from the lucky play is Mandalay Resort Group (MBG). Their quarter didn’t end until Oct. 31 so their official numbers haven’t been reported as yet.

“Also there’s been a strong rumor on the Strip that two whales had their clocks cleaned while playing at Mandalay Bay.

“Last week, the company said they expected earnings for the quarter to be in the range of 32 cents to 34 cents a share. Yet, the most optimistic analyst had estimated earnings wouldn’t top 25 cents while the pessimists had Mandalay losing 12 cents a share.

“Something good must have happened to them, wouldn’t you say?”

WELL, IT WORKED FOR THE INDIANS: If you believe what’s been reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, a major effort will be made to get a ballot initiative to approve expanded gambling at any outlet that currently has a gaming license of any sort, including card clubs and race tracks.

The move is similar to the effort made successfully by the California Indian Tribes two years ago. That resulted in the establishment of some 45 casinos around the state. And the process hasn’t ended yet.

According to the newspaper, an organization called “The Deville Group” plans to spend about $2 million to collect one million signatures to get the proposal on the November 2002 ballot.

Supporters say the ballot initiative would provide parity to the state’s various gaming centers where under current law only the Native Americans can operate casinos.

REVERSING A PHOTO-FINISH? It probably has happened before but few can recall such a move. It happened in Ontario at the Fort Erie racetrack. After studying a photo-finish, the placing judges at the track called it a dead-heat for Sweeping Eva and Nabethian.

That’s the way it stood and the mutuels were paid accordingly.

But that didn’t satisfy Nabethian’s 25-year-old trainer. After studying the print that was posted after the race, Trainer Don MacRae appealed the decision. He determined that a shadow, not the horse’s nose, had caused the judge’s to call the finish a tie.

After the appeal, the stewards asked for and received another print of the finish which was lighter and brighter than the original. It also was obvious that a mistake had been made and that truly MacRae’s horse, Nabethian, was the winner.

Of course, the decision was too late for the bettors, the large majority of whom had already collected their winnings whether they had truly won or not.

BIG MAC DID IT HIS WAY: Baseball will miss Mark McGwire. I know I will. The big guy made the game of baseball exciting to watch.

Equally important was his dedication to traditional, sporting values. You never found him in the center of controversy ”” substance abuse, domestic violence, contract hold-outs, or any of the other dilemmas that trail today’s athletes.

Even though Big Mac has officially retired, he won’t be far from view. At least his likeness won’t be. Already, commercial parasites are hawking Mark McGwire souvenirs and collectibles.

For instance, for about $500 you can purchase a limited edition autographed jersey. Or how about an autographed baseball for $250? If you prefer something for the wall you can buy an autographed picture for $200, but if you’re short on dough you can pick up an unsigned retirement plaque for only $29.99.

I suppose it’s a sign of our times that everything has a price tag, including a star athlete’s name. But does the hype have to come so quickly and dominate so thoroughly? Apparently it does.