Cast of experts line up for Park Place pinstripes

Jan 22, 2002 6:47 AM

GETTING HIS DUCKS IN ORDER: “You’ve got to hand it to Tom Gallagher. Since he took over at Park Place Entertainment he has been lining up a cast of experts to take the company into the next generation of gaming,” remarked one of the industry’s most astute observers.

“After reshuffling the leadership, eliminating some of Arthur Goldberg’s understudies and putting in a chain of command leading up to industry veteran Wally Barr and ultimately to himself, he now is setting up a division of the company that will be in a position to dominate the on-line future of the industry.

“He took a brilliant long-time gaming expert in Peter George who made Ladbroke one of the world’s best known and most successful bookmakers not only in Great Britain but also in the world, and placed him in charge of the company’s international group, and now has added Frank Han to that department. Han is an Internet genius.

“That combination, coupled with Gallagher’s full support, will have all of gaming watching and waiting as a new leader emerges in a field that is just taking shape,” he said.

NCAA, PLEASE TAKE NOTE: Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said his wager with Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating on the outcome of the Cotton Bowl was not illegal. “Gambling is illegal in part because it is based upon luck,” said Huckabee. But his bet with Keating had nothing to do with luck, he said, because he had no doubt Arkansas would beat Oklahoma in the Jan. 1 game. They didn’t. They lost 10-3.

“But somehow luck prevailed over skill and tenacity,” Huckabee said as he prepared to host Keating and his wife to a weekend of duck hunting.

Adding insult to injury to those in Washington that feel wagering on college sports should be made illegal everywhere, Huckabee and Keating were joined on the freebee duck hunting excursion by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

TROUBLE BREWING IN LITTLE RHODY: Just when state gaming regulators were expected to approve the addition of several hundred slot machines at Lincoln Greyhound Park in Rhode Island, word filtered out that a grand jury is investigating the activities of parent company, Wembley USA, a wholly-owned subsidiary of a gaming operator in the U.K.

According to reporting in the Providence Journal, investigators have been interviewing two former Wembley USA executives who claimed they were fired for refusing to participate in an “improper and illegal scheme” to pay millions of dollars to an unnamed attorney. The executives sued and the case was settled out-of-court.

Dan Bucci, who runs dog track/slot emporium for the English firm, has denied making illegal payments to the lawyer but in a letter to a state official last May he indicated there were discussions about a $1 million bonus to the Rhode Island lawyer.

Bucci said his company welcomed the investigation.

PRAISE THE LORD, BUT COUNT THE CARDS: One of gaming’s least likely “barred characters” won’t be a bane to Atlantic City casinos any longer: Father Fahey has passed on to his eternal reward.

Father Joseph R. Fahey, a Jesuit priest since 1968, died last week of a heart attack. He was 65.

But, to many of the blackjack dealers on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, he was a master card counter. So good, in fact, that he was “86’d” at casinos both in New Jersey and in Nevada.

Before, his talents were recognized, however, he was able to generate tens of thousands of dollars for the Jesuit Order and for some of the schools he taught at such as Boston College, Boston College High School and Holy Cross College, all in Massachusetts.

In discussing his card counting ability, Father Fahey, who held a doctorate degree in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was quoted as saying, “All for the greater glory of God.”

Perhaps there’s hope for card counters everywhere.