Did someone slip Iron Mike a Mickey?

Jun 11, 2002 10:44 AM

SAY IT ISN’T SO! Tongues are wagging that Mike Tyson wasn’t himself Saturday night when he fought Lennox Lewis. Do you believe that? I don’t. But, there’s no doubt that Iron Mike was a different person. The latest rumor on the line is that he was slipped a "calmer" so he wouldn’t get himself all worked up and explode, as he is known to do.

I don’t know whether to believe the story or not. Certainly Tyson wasn’t Tyson. He was cool as a cucumber going into the ring. That’s unusual for him. Normally he’s on the muscle.

This is not meant to take away from Lewis’ good fight. He was on a mission to jab, jab, jab and he did just that.


ROLLING IN THE TAIWAN STRAIGHT: Las Vegas gamers are jockeying for position now that Taiwan voters have cast their ballots overwhelmingly in favor of placing casinos on the Penghu Islands. Saturday’s referendum was not binding, but the 80 % approval margin is sure to fuel the push for casinos on the lightly populated islands strategically situated between mainland China and Taiwan. Las Vegas Sands boss Sheldon Adelson has previously pledged to invest up to $2.5 billion on the isles, also know as the Pescadores. MGM Mirage, Donald Trump and Australian Kerry Packer have also expressed keen interest. But GamingToday has learned that another high-profile Las Vegas gamer is poised to buy land on the islands and take the inside track on any casino bidding. So stay tuned. If and when the Taiwanese government flashes the green light, one thing’s for sure: The stakes are deep in the heart of the Asian high-roller market whose annual play is conservatively pegged at $6.7 billion.


KUDOES TO AMERICA’S RACING FANS: More than 103,000 showed up at Belmont Park Saturday to greet and root for War Emblem in his quest for the Triple Crown. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. But, congratulations to Billy Nader, the senior vice president for the N.Y. Racing Association, and his staff and preparing and handling the huge crowd believed to be the largest gathering ever to witness a sporting event in Metropolitan New York.

Rabble rousers tried to incite the attendees because War Emblem’s owner, Prince Salman, is a native of Saudi Arabia who heads an Arabic newspaper conglomerate. Ignored by Jimmy Breslin and his ilk that the prince is American educated, owns a home in New Jersey, and maintains a large thoroughbred operation that provides jobs and benefits the economy.

Fair play, true to the American tradition, prevailed and when War Emblem made his initial appearance on the track, the fans applauded his successes. It would have been the same had the colt won.


IS IT JUST PLAIN LUCK, OR SKILL? That’s the question that must be answered by city officials in Kansas City, Mo. Seems some IGT-manufactured machines, built for the Japanese market, has turned up in Kansas City where a businessman has been selling them for $295 each.

The machines are what are known as Japanese Pachisuro games or slot machines. They don’t have handles like American one-armed bandits but instead have three buttons in the front that allow players to independently stop each reel’s spin. This button selection, claims the seller, makes the game one of skill and not pure chance.

Company executives at IGT, however, point out that the computer software that these games use is similar to the random number generators used in American machines. True, the player stops the reel by pushing a button but it’s the software that uses a range of options in predetermining winners.


TAKING GAMING TO ANOTHER LEVEL: Ted Arneault, the man responsible for tranforming a penny-ante racetrack into the lynchpin of a major gaming company ”” Mountaineer Gaming Group (MTNG) ”” has begun building support to elevate his slot machine operation into a full-fledged casino by adding table games.

Arneault, who has some casino experience since he operates the Ramada Speedway Casino in North Las Vegas, feels the table games would satisfy those patrons who want more than the slots.

"Big mistake," says savvy gaming advisor and periodic GamingToday contributor Don McGhie of Reno.

"Table games are much more complicated to manage," explains McGhie. "Square footage-wise, you can make as much money or more on table games, but it would require a lot more management. From a business standpoint, as long as you have the market, you’re better off going with slots."


GROWTH IN A DOWN MARKET: It’s been a difficult 12 months for the Nevada gaming market with nearly all sources of revenue showing declines. Two areas remain positive, however: mini-baccarat and five-cent slot machines.

During the 12-month period ended on April 30, according to figures provided by Gaming Control Board number crunchers, the win amount for the 58 locations that offer mini-baccarat was $186,595,000, an increase of 9.61% over the previous year. The hold percentage for the game was 14.88.

But, the big jump involved the growing popularity of five-cent slot machines. Total revenue from the 311 locations offering that play was $1,694,665,000, a move upward of 6.89%. And, the hold was a healthy 7.38%.

The state auditors said there were 62,755 nickel slot machines in operation during the covered period.


ALL THAT GLITTERS ISN’T 24 KARAT! A good friend came into town for the jewelry convention last week. He’s an excellent horse handicapper and never met a race he didn’t think he could beat, so went straight to the race and sports book at his host hotel.

Of course, as a regular visitor he’s comped to the gills. That’s food, beverage, room, everything. After a disastrous session with the ponies he went directly to the craps table to finish things off. Thirty minutes later, after no help from the pass line, he remembered a valuable piece of jewelry he was going to sell to a friend.

He rang up the friend and make arrangements to meet. That’s the last I heard from him until the last day of the convention. We were going to have breakfast, but he came down from his room with his bags already packed. I asked how the jewelry show went, and he said "Don’t ask." It seems he never made it to the show.

But he also added that if he ever came to town again, he wanted me to put his cash in a safe deposit box before heading to the casino! "And make sure you keep those diamond brooches locked up as well!" he said.


THIS IS BIZARRE, EVEN FOR VEGAS! From our only in Las Vegas file, the Tropicana is staging a contest in which a live chicken, called Ginger, takes on Phyllis Diller, in a game of celebrity tick tack toe. Once they get to pecking for real, the game could be worth $10,000 to the lucky winner. I’m putting my money on Ginger!