As always, our heart’s at home

Sep 2, 2003 9:13 AM

WE’RE BAAAACK! Dorothy was right: There is no place like home! Eileen and I just got back into town after our summer hiatus in beautiful Del Mar by the sea. And, while we love the ocean, the trade winds, the seafood restaurants and the beautiful racetrack, we are so happy to be back in Las Vegas.

Besides, the weather was becoming a bit uncomfortable as the temperature and humidity were in some kind of exponential race to the moon. Who would have believed we came back to Las Vegas to get a break from the heat? Here’s a hint for seaside homebuilders: Try air conditioning!

Another thing. We began to miss our favorite dining haunts. Places like Piero’s Trattoria, Mimmo Ferraro’s, Roma Deli, Panevino, to name just a few, are unique to Vegas. Besides, how much red snapper can you eat?

Most of all we’re happy to be back in the Valley of the Dollars because of our friends and colleagues who have meant so much to us over the years. Keeping in touch via cell phones is fine, but it doesn’t replace an old fashioned hug and smile.

SPEAKING OF HUGS AND SMILES, there will be plenty of both at the reunion of the Bahamas casino crowd scheduled for Sept. 16-17 at the Las Vegas Hilton.

What’s the Bahamas casino crowd? Well, it’s gamers who once worked in casinos in the Bahamas. Two of the well-tanned alumni include Allan "Jam Up" Hirschorn (Crystal Palace Casino, 1967-1988), and Neil Glander (Playboy Casino, 1978-1983, and Paradise Island Casino, 1983-1988). Allan and Neil are organizing the reunion, which will take place in, appropriately enough, the Crystal Lounge. Assisting will be Steve Hand, a gaming and travel consultant, who also worked at several Bahamas casinos.

The reunion will take place during G2E week so it’s possible they’ll get a nice turnout.

In case you’ve forgotten, Allan is an executive host at Bellagio, and Neil works at Agua Caliente Casino in Palm Springs.

Allan reports that about 35 people have confirmed that they will attend the reunion. Here’s a short list: Bryn Jones, Dave Gamble, John Siddons, Rhonda Orton, Rod Dofort, Shirley and Joe Zanelli, Steve Heyward, Tom Huchison, Bob Bender, Cheryl Delphin, Ian Sutton, Martin Conway, Nick Hughes, Rick Ingrassia, Sean Bernard, Stanley Prepner, Steve Hand and Victor and Marilyn Lownes.

CONGRATS to Wally Barr, top gun at Park Place Entertainment. Not only did his company receive the Bill Bennett Employer of the Year Award from the Nevada State AFL-CIO, Wally himself was singled out for recognition. The award has been given since 1985, but this is only the second time an individual has been honored. The first such honor went to the award’s namesake

We’ve known Wally since his days in management at Atlantic City. Even back then it was easy to see his people skills. In our opinion, this was a well-deserved pat on the back.

A CASE OF PARANOIA? Our cousins in Reno seemed to have survived the storm that was supposed to have been generated by the Thunder Valley Casino in the Sacramento area of California.

For weeks, "experts" were predicting dire consequences for northern Nevada casinos as Thunder Valley, a tribal casino operated by Station Casinos, would siphon off so much business that Reno would shrivel up and blow away.

Well, the numbers are out and the effect of the tribal casino on Reno’s business is mostly negligible.

And why shouldn’t it be? Let’s keep in mind that when these California casinos open up under the hype of "Nevada-style gaming," they’re not entirely accurate. None of these so-called "Nevada-style" casinos offers sports betting, nor do they have craps and roulette. In fact, there are plenty of games and activities that are unique to Las Vegas and can’t be duplicated elsewhere. We have a unique product, so to paraphrase Franklin Roosevelt’s famous adage, "We have nothing to fear but our own paranoid delusions." How’s that for some Psychology 101?