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Jordan finds R&R
in Vegas casino

May 13, 2003 7:18 AM

LEGEND BEFORE THE FALL: A bird at the MGM Grand chirped about seeing Michael Jordan playing blackjack last week at The Mansion, the exclusive high-roller room near the sports bar leading into the race and sports book.

Jordan was alone at the blackjack table around 9 p.m., our pipe said. The NBA superstar has been a customer at the hotel and usually does his card playing at The Mansion. In the past MJ has played alone and with friends such as Charles Barkley and Tiger Woods.

The appearance of "His Airness" came just a few days prior to being unceremoniously dropped by Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin as president of basketball operations. Jordan had spent 3½ years with the Wizards, the last two as a player.

The former Chicago Bulls superstar is rumored to be at the top of the list for a front office position with the expansion Charlotte franchise, owned by Black Entertainment Television president Robert Johnson.

How Jordan’s gambling forays into Las Vegas will be viewed by the NBA is anyone’s guess. The Maloof brothers own both The Palms and the Sacramento Kings, but have managed to stay on NBA Commissioner David Stern’s good side by eliminating league wagering from the casino’s sports book.


ADDING INSULT TO INJURY: The CNBC Network had just completed a report direct from Churchill Downs indicating that the stewards had determined that the "battery" allegation against Jose Santos during his ride aboard Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide was much ado about nothing when a reporter for the Wall Street Journal had to chime in with a comment that underscored his stupidity, at least about betting on horses.

The reporter advanced that he was hoping the story was true because he had made a wager on Atswhatimtalknbout who finished fourth in the Derby.

"If the stewards had disqualified the winner (after Monday’s investigation) my horse would have been moved up to third. I had played the horse across the board so I would have at least got something for finishing third," he erroneously stated.

As all old horse players know, any decision by the stewards on Monday would not have changed the payoffs on the race.

With his comment, the reporter showed that he not only picks losers, he also doesn’t know much about pari-mutuel betting.


HEARING FROM THE OTHER SIDE: Anti-gamers love to jump in with comments when stories such as the Bill Bennett gambling affair hit the news pages. But little is heard when the gaming comments are positive.

Case in point: the Southern Gaming Summit last week in Mississippi.

Underscoring the impact casinos had on his life, Lorenzo Langford, mayor of Atlantic City said that after graduating from college, the best job he could get paid him$16,000 a year. He wanted more and "after six weeks of dealer school and a few hundred dollars, I could earn 50% more as a dealer ”¦ Those are the kinds of opportunities that casinos provide."

And A.J. Holloway, mayor of Biloxi, Miss., noted that the money casinos in his jurisdiction generated helped rebuild the community; built new schools and recreation facilities "while reducing property taxes by 50%."


HE’S GOT BIG IDEAS: One thing about Robert Maloney Jr. he thinks big. Admitting that he doesn’t yet have the money to go forward with his plans, Maloney has petitioned the Louisiana lawmakers to build a $300 million motor speedway in St. John the Baptist Parish. And, oh, he also needs slot machines to help pay for the project that would include a harness racing track, a hotel, a cultural center and a grandstand with 25,000 seats at his speedway!

As it stands, Maloney owns and operates three truck stops in New Orleans that hardly generate the kind of money needed for his project. But with legislative help, he says, he would be able to generate the needed development funds. Oh yes, he also would need a road widened. He would need a bridge built. He would need both water and electricity hookups, and pilings would have to be driven in to the soft land of the sugar cane field where he plans to locate his speedway.

It’s surprising he hasn’t asked the legislature to provide the customers as well.