Magic Man reaches for new heights!

April 02, 2002 9:27 AM
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REVVING UP LE REVE! — Steve Wynn is making changes to his Le Reve project, which could make it the tallest building on the Strip. He’s adding two stories and 156 rooms to his future mega resort project on the Strip. Sources say the hotel tower will now stand 528 feet, or 48 stories, and the room count is up to 2,611. “It’s a refinement and an improvement,’’ a reliable pipe said in Steve’s absence. With county approval expected this week, look for Wynn to break ground on his Desert Inn property before the year is out. No word yet on financing, however.

BOOKIES GET STARRING ROLE! Despite the nasty NCAA campaign, Las Vegas sports books stole the show in a recent TV movie depicting the Arizona State point spread scandal. Titled “Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie,” the movie aired last week on FX, but you can catch it again on April 5 and 7. Insiders say the movie is pretty accurate to the actual events, which saw Arizona State’s line plummet from 12 to 3 points. The dramatic drop caught the attention of ­­Vegas bookies who notified the NCAA and other authorities, who eventually solved the case. You may have noticed a dapper sports book director in the movie who was none-other-than Robert Walker, the sports director at The Mirage who played himself. Nice job, Robert. Can you spare a signed, 8X10 glossy!

DON’T CHANGE THE PAYOFF! A rosebud was on the telephone. She appeared upset about recent table game changes at a Strip hotel and wanted my opinion. I politely told her that I hadn’t heard of any rule changes and could not comment. That didn’t stop her.

“If you play single-deck 21 and get a blackjack, the payoff will be 6 to 5. And, no surrender is allowed,” the rosebud said. “In addition, dealers are no longer permitted to wear tuxedos in the beautifully decorated high-end pit. It was too intimidating for some players is the story I hear.”

I told her once the information is confirmed I will offer an opinion. She left her telephone number.

RUMBLE IN RHODE ISLAND! Town officials are preparing to give Boyd Gaming (BYD) of Las Vegas and the Narragansett Indian Tribe exclusive rights to a casino in West Warwick, R.I.

Although it hasn’t yet been resolved whether to put a casino referendum to a statewide vote, there is a rumble brewing between Harrah’s Entertainment (HET) and Boyd. Harrah’s, who would like a shot at any possible casino venture, is concerned about the exclusivity part of the agreement.

Harrah’s says that usually it is the state’s responsibility to choose which gambling corporation will build a casino. However, Rhode Island law is silent on the issue.

Part of the agreement calls for Boyd and the tribe to give the town $25,000 per quarter to cover costs related to casino research.

In the meantime, there is a bill pending in the state legislature authorizing a study commission to take a look at casino gambling. If the bill passes, it will extend the study period and prevent a referendum until at least 2004. Town officials say that will hurt their town and they will likely drop the project all together should the bill pass.

PLEASE, NO MORE WISECRACKING ANNOUNCERS! A new radio show, Wiseguys, is in town next week auditioning professional bettors to serve as guests on a Taymar Radio show offering football betting advice. The show is scheduled to run each week before Sunday’s NFL games. Show producer Mark Dyer said he wants to make the audience laugh as well as give them “something of interest” about the games. Forget the laughs, Mark. We’ve seen how absolutely horrible contrived comedy can be, and concentrate on providing something of interest. The winner of the football game would be a good start.

TIMES, THEY ARE A-CHANGING: “If you go back a couple of years, after MGM bought Mirage, Terry Lanni, the MGM chief honcho was asked if his company would be looking to pick up some midwest casinos. Lanni replied that ”˜We’re not in the riverboat business,’” reminded one of our astute pipes.

But, things may be changing for the gaming behemoth. Reason: Hollywood Casino Corp. (HWD).

“Among Hollywood’s holdings,” explained the pipe, “is the Aurora riverboat in Aurora, Illinois, which could serve as an alternative to the row going on for the Emerald Casino license for Rosemont, Illinois.

“Our good friend, Jane Pedreira, who analyzes the industry for Lehman Brothers, says $1 billion for Hollywood might provide a faster way to get into the Chicago market without getting bogged down in more Emerald litigation.

“And, the Hollywood buy would also include smaller properties in Louisiana and Mississippi. Certainly something the MGM folks have to look at,” he concluded.

FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH: Maybe the Washington pols who want to ban college sports betting ought to talk with convicted fixer Benny Silman. He’s the one who got bagged for fixing Arizona Sun Devils basketball games in 1994 and served more than three years in the can.

Silman, subject of the aforementioned TV movie, says how easy it was to fix the games because “the sport contains billion-dollar television contracts and million-dollar coaching deals while the players make nothing beyond the same scholarships given chemistry or ­­music prodigies.”

He says he was on a roll with a couple of Arizona Sun Devil players shaving points when Arizona played Washington. Then, when Las Vegas bookmakers saw the unusual flow of money on the game they notified Pac 10 and NCAA officials. That’s when Silman’s bubble burst.

Query: What would happen without that Las Vegas oversight? Silman and his ilk might still be in business.

ONLINE ANALYSTS, PLEASE TAKE NOTE: Despite these multi-billion dollar forecasts by some analysts, SureFire Commerce Inc. of Montreal, Canada, is downsizing because of a slowdown in the online gambling business. The company says it’s cutting 120 jobs because recent developments in the U.S. “have hurt short and mid-term prospects.”

“Online gambling,” the company said, “remains a long-term growth industry.”

As a public company, SureFire Commerce reported it expects to have revenue of between $15 million and $16 million in the fourth quarter, down from nearly $20 million in the preceding quarter. It said it will record a $3 million restructuring charge in the fourth quarter.