Even moguls can change their mind!

Jul 9, 2002 9:20 AM

IT AIN’T NECESSARILY SO! When folks said to Jackie Gaughan, say it ain’t so, Jackie, he did exactly that! Who says you can’t change your mind? Certainly not the great Jackie Gaughan, pioneer of the downtown Las Vegas casino scene. The grand-daddy of downtown moguls, Jackie reversed himself last week and decided the Western Hotel wasn’t quite ready for the scrap heap. And that leaves one more "sawdust joint" hard-core players can belly up to. Plus there’s still all those penny slots.

Granted, the area surrounding the Western isn’t the Garden of Eden, but players, real gamblers, don’t care. And that’s Jackie’s clientele: long-term gamblers who like to challenge Lady Luck. Great work, Jackie.

SACCO’S LUCK RUNS OUT: For a half-dozen years, former Las Vegas illegal bookmaker Ron Sacco felt safe, squirreled away as he was on his Costa Rican estate. Internet bookmaking provided him with the opportunity to do what he had done for 40 years yet protected him from the reach of American law enforcement people.

But that all ended ironically on Independence Day when he decided to take a little trip to Nicaragua. That’s when he became embroiled in a border passport problem and was detained until he agreed to surrender to the FBI.

He was flown from Costa Rica to Miami and will soon face a two-year-old gambling indictment.


TOPPING OFF THE ORLEANS: There’s a beehive of activity over at The Orleans, and this week there’s a topping off ceremony at its new arena. The festivities take place on Friday at noon. Coast Casinos is in negotiations to bring a minor league hockey team and, possibly, an Arena2 football franchise to the 9,000-seat venue, which is expected to open early in 2004. If you haven’t been buy The Orleans recently, check out the new restaurants, parking garage, and other improvements. You might also want to try the pool party. They’re great fun.


MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN: Lovers of the mule-racing sport felt that Sunday’s race at Pleasanton, Cal., was something that their thoroughbred racing counterparts might describe as a meeting of Affirmed-Alydar revisited.

The matchup was between 10-year-old Black Ruby and eight-year-old Taz. Despite their ages, these two mules dominate the racing circuit. And, here was a chance to determine the Mule of the Year championship.

Their racing records speak for their ability. Black Ruby has won 43 of her 49 races. In her losses, she was second five times and third once. Taz’s win record isn’t nearly as good since most of her losses were to Black Ruby. She is credited with 15 wins, 29 seconds and six losses in 58 starts.

Fans on Sunday remained loyal to Black Ruby betting her down to 1-5 odds. There was win betting only since place and show wagering would have generated minus pools.

When the race was over, Black Ruby retained her championship, but only by a nose. Just a schnozz behind at the finish line was the consistent Taz. Oh well, maybe next year.


ANOTHER INNOVATION FOR HARPER: One thing must be said for the dapper Joe Harper, empressario of summer racing at Del Mar: he’s always on top of all things that will improve the racing experience for the fans.

It will be no different this summer when Del Mar installs an all-digital photo finish camera that projects high-definition television images.

Harper explains that the new technology behind the new system was developed by a Japanese company that has installations at other racetracks in the U.S. but uses a film camera for backup. Del Mar will be the first track to go "all digital."

With the new system, placing judges will be able to view a color image of the finish on a high definition television monitor that will be clearer and more precise, allowing for easier viewing. Also, the pictures will be available instantaneously as the horses cross the wire, thus doing away with the long wait required for the processing of film.

Oh, don’t forget, Del Mar gets underway on Wednesday, July 24. Hope to see you there.


SOCCER GAMBLING, OF SORTS: Most Las Vegas bookmakers barely noticed what little betting took place on the World Cup soccer action but if press reports can be believed some of that soccer money ended up here anyway.

According to England’s Sky News, the UK’s soccer ace Rio Ferdinand stopped off in Las Vegas on his way home from Japan and "gambled