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Mike Mecca: survivor, winner and good guy!

Dec 4, 2001 8:52 AM

WHOEVER SAYS GOOD GUYS DON’T WIN does not know Mike Mecca. Mecca is a casino executive who oversees the Fertitta’s newest venture ”” Green Valley Ranch. It will be his biggest assignment locally, although his past found him at the helm of Greektown Casino in Detroit.

Opening a new casino is no small task. But, it appears to be Mecca’s specialty. Certainly, Greektown blossomed and continues to thrive. But, as Mike explained, Detroit is not Las Vegas. And, the urge to return overcame his desire to stay. And, don’t think for a minute it didn’t bring smiles to the face of his wife, Sandy, when he returned.

Mecca was chief operating officer for four years at Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia. Go back a notch to Caesars World where he spent 13 years and earned his bones in the business.

“Mike is a survivor. He has a pleasing personality, but when it comes to operations he’s all business,” said a high-level casino exec who asked not to be identified.

Mecca is among a few casino executives who took their show on the road and returned to Las Vegas back on top.

At Green Valley, Mecca will direct 1,200 employees as vice president and general manager of the new resort set to open Dec. 18.

I’M STILL ON THE VET’S LIST! Some nasty bug had a banquet with me. Not to worry. Charlie the Good Doctor is on the case. The bug has no shot.

However, the bug scored one big victory. It kept me from attending the opening party of the Palms. I don’t do parties, as a rule, but I think a lot of George Maloof and wanted to be there.

Hurry up and buy another place, George, so I can get even.

Larry Ruvo came calling at the Palms party. That was another missed treat. Ruvo is aces up in my book. Although I’m not much of a drinker, I would definitely hoist one in the air with him.

The word bug brought back memories of my days on the racetrack. Apprentice jockeys were called bug riders. They were given weight allowances on the horses they rode. It varied from 3 to 5 to 10 pounds. A 10-pound bug was an apprentice riding a horse he was contracted to.

I still frown on betting on a horse with a bug up. They are not like they used to be. There were some exceptions, which I loaded up on. The one that comes to mind is Ron Ferraro. He came out of Philadelphia when I was still there and opened my eyes and plenty of others with his riding skills.

I got to know Ferraro quite well. He was a character of the first class. In those days my winter home was Bowie Race Course. One particular weekend Ferraro came to ride a horse. I went into the jock’s room to say hello. He wanted to know if I went back to Philly on the weekends. I told him I was at the train station early every Saturday evening, Philly bound.

“Forget the train. Ride with me in my new Cadillac,” he insisted.

I agreed and met up with him in the parking lot at the end of the day. It was a slick car. He was quite proud of it. He drove gingerly until we hit the freeway. Then it was Katie, bar the door!

I don’t usually frighten at high speed. But, Ron was singing opera at 80-plus miles per hour. It was a white-knuckle flight until we reached Philly. When I got out of the car he wanted to know if I enjoyed the ride.

“Your opera singing is superb . . . Maybe next time we can do it over a bowl of pasta.”

He laughed, but got the message!