Rose to sink roots into Las Vegas?

Mar 19, 2002 7:43 AM

CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? A very reliable upper echelon source at Palms Casino Resort confirmed that negotiations have begun with baseball bad-boy Pete Rose to work with the hotel.

“Right now the timing isn’t right,” the source said. “We’re a bit uncomfortable to make any announcement. Pete is a truly nice man and he has been by the property. Down the road, he may do promotions for us both on-site and around the country. That’s where it stands.”

The “non announcement” follows reports that Pete had been spotted in the casino. Pete is also coming out with a new baseball video that includes his former boss, Sparky Anderson, doing an introduction to the tape.

Sources say Sparky turned down the $20,000 or $30,000 he would have received to do the voice over. He still has faith in his old buddy, Charlie Hustle.

CELL PHONES GET THE BUSY SIGNAL! Bookmakers are quietly complaining about having to enforce Nevada regulators’ ban on cell phones from the sports books. “There’s really no reason for the ban,” said one bookmaker. “Of course, we follow the gaming guidelines, but it doesn’t sit well with customers who are used to talking on cell phones.”

Indeed, cell phones are permitted virtually everywhere else in the casino. People can sit and play cards, the slots, keno or bingo while chatting on the phone. But let a phone go off in the sports book and security guards leap to the ready, prepared to escort the guilty ­­patron from the premises.

That kind of treatment isn’t the norm, of course. Most sports book security personnel simply advise the guests that they can’t use cell phones in the sports books. But some patrons have complained of heavy-handed treatment. “They can be rude,” said one sports supervisor. “Plus it’s embarrassing to be singled out when you’re there to have fun.”

Some bookies say the days of messenger bettors, those who are the real targets of the cell phone ban, are gone anyway. “Restrictions as to amount bet, documentation and the like, have made it barely possible to place a messenger bet,” one bookie said. “Besides, they have phones today that plug into your ear, with a tiny mike on your lapel. Dick Tracy ­­never had it so good!”

UPWARD AND FORWARD: “Most people haven’t yet noticed what a job Randy Black is doing with his properties in Mesquite,” reported the pipe.

“If you look at the report from the Nevada Gaming Control Board about the gaming revenues reported by the state’s casinos in January, most showed a decline from last year. Statewide, gaming win was down 14.8% while the Las Vegas Strip saw its numbers fall by 23.9%.

“But, take a peek at the numbers gathered from the Mesquite properties, nearly all owned and operated by Black. They were up 11.2% to a level of $10.1 million.

“He was operating the Virgin River Hotel/Casino before he acquired the Casablanca Resort and Casino from Merv Griffin and his CEO Tom Gallagher, Black set about increasing the appeal of the property while reducing operating expenses.

“More recently, he took over the Oasis from Si Redd, and is doing the same thing to that property.

“Based on the numbers, he’s doing something right.” The pipe concluded.

TIGHTENING UP THE STRIP? Another item barely noticed in the January report from the Nevada Gaming Board was the apparent tightening of the slot machines on the Las Vegas Strip.

It didn’t escape the sharp eye of Robin Farley, the astute gaming analyst from UBS Warburg. In her weekly report, Farley noted, “Normally, slot revenue is the best indicator of mass-market demand since they are not influenced by luck as much as with table games. However, it appears that the Strip slots were ”˜tighter’ during January, 2002. The slot win percentage was 7.2% versus 6.5% in the prior year period.”

 WHAT GOES UP, SOMETIMES COMES DOWN: Last December, when it appeared that the united front among the horsemen would convince Kentucky lawmakers to approve slots for the state’s racetracks, the price of shares in Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN) grew from $27-plus to a high of $43.25.

But, the euphoria seems to be waning.

In the past week, the price has slipped, reaching $39.50 on Monday, as more and more opposition has developed against the expansion of gaming in that state.

Not only have some of the biggest political voices cried out against the bill but the attorney general has suggested that no such move can happen without a constitutional amendment.

A ”˜WHALE’ OF A STORY: The world-class gambler known as “The Fat Man.” is in trouble with a British casino that alleges he bounced checks worth nearly three million dollars.

According to the owners of The Ritz casino in Londontown, Syrian-born Fouad Al Zayat is being sued for failing to make good the checks he bounced last year.

Without admitting that the checks bounced, Zayat agreed that he loves to gamble. “This is the only sin I have. I have lost a lot of money. I know it’s wrong to lose money like this but if you’ve ever been to a casino you will understand what the atmosphere is like,” he said.