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Celebs gather under the Palms

Jan 6, 2004 7:29 AM

PLENTY GOING ON UNDER THE PALMS! So what didn’t happen over New Year’s at the Palms? Well, other than Britney Spear’s eight-hour marriage, Kobe and Chris Webber hanging out, the Hilton girls Paris and Nikki letting loose, Matt Damon not gambling and Anna Nicole Smith shedding half a person, not much.

First, the skinny on the again Miss Spears from a very inside source. The annulment is complete, helped along by Palms owner George Maloof. Our Palms pipe says that Britney had been staying since last Wednesday in the Real World Suite, site of MTV’s Real World show. While there and "having a good time," she decided to get married at 5 a.m.

"Britney likes to have fun," said our pipe, who spent the whole week with the rock diva. "After getting married, she decided it wasn’t what she wanted and made quick arrangements to get it annulled. There were a lot of people willing to help."

As for Mr. Bryant, he and wife Vanessa were together eating and having soft drinks at Nine. Kobe is due to become a free agent at the end of the season, but the early line is he will remain with the Lakers. Our pipe heard Maloof tell Kobe he was his "13th favorite player in the NBA, next to the 12 on the Sacramento Kings."

Finally, lets just say Anna Nicole has dropped a "considerable amount of weight" and is looking like she did when she modeled Guess jeans. I guess her diet really worked!


PRO TEAM FINALLY VEGAS BOUND? One of our insiders in Chicago has heard rumors that Michael Jordan is trying to get an NBA franchise into Las Vegas.

It wouldn’t be the first time someone has mentioned bringing pro basketball to Sin City. But the association with superstar and multi-millionaire Jordan could lend some credence to the story.

The move would have to satisfy NBA owners, who have always cast a leery eye at Las Vegas.

There’s also a rumor that the Maloof family is so frustrated with Sacramento city officials over their refusal to build a new arena, that they’ve actually considered bringing the Kings to Las Vegas.

Following the sports franchise theme, there’s also rumblings downtown that major league baseball officials are discussing the possibility of allowing the Montreal Expos to either move to Las Vegas, or at least play some of their games here.

Sports fans, stay tuned!


A SLOTS ”˜BREAK’ FOR THE PLAYERS: It didn’t last long, but for a short time slots players found that they could double their money without even playing. "It was like the heavens opened up and down came the biblical manna," said one "lucky" player.

This all took place at a riverboat casino that real estate mogul Donald Trump operates in Gary, Ind. Players found that when they inserted their money, the machine would double their credits!

Casino security personnel watched as one man inserted his bill and immediately cash out without spinning the reels, yet he pocketed twice as much as he deposited. They notified state police who found that the problem, probably due to a programming error, was common among 26 slot machines.

Further investigation led officials to believe that the errors developed when the machines were reprogrammed to accept the new $20 bills.

Isn’t technology wonderful?


WILL THE TRUTH EVER COME OUT? A short newspaper item last week indicated that famed Kentucky veterinarian Alex Harthill was retiring at age 78. The announcement triggered a memory of the late Sam McCracken, one of America’s premier racing writers, who plied his trade for the Boston Globe.

For many years, McCracken spent a week in Louisville each year to bring the news of that year’s Kentucky Derby to his eager readers in New England. Things were different in 1968 because that was the year Bostonian Peter Fuller’s Dancer’s Image won the race but later was disqualified when he was found to have run on the pain killer, Butazolidin. That would be no big deal today but 35 years ago it was prohibited.

So who gave Dancer’s Image the Bute? His vet, Dr. Harthill, said he had no idea. And everyone involved with the horse also denied involvement. But McCracken never hesitated in expressing his opinion that he would not have gone further than the veterinarian care provider to find the culprit.


IT’S DÉJÀ VU ON THE GAMING FLOOR: About a decade ago, an underage player hit the jackpot on a slot machine at Caesars Palace but was denied the money because he shouldn’t have been playing in the first place.

Just to show that some things never change comes a story out of New Zealand where a Chinese student won an $11,000 jackpot on a slot machine. Casino officials rushed over to congratulate him with a glass of wine and a commemorative key ring.

But, the enthusiasm stopped quickly when the player was unable to come up with identification. The following day he returned with a driver’s license that showed he was only 19 years old. New Zealand law requires that players be at least 20 years old.

The dejected student was heard to remark: "I can lose money there but I can’t win money there." There was no indication whether the casino would be fined for permitting an underage player to gamble.


TRAVELERS ON THE ROAD AGAIN! The signs are positive that travelers from California are on the road again, with Vegas as their destination.

Early results indicate the holiday season saw an increase in Interstate 15 traffic into Nevada from Southern California. In fact, total traffic set a record for the month of December with 1.136 million vehicles making the trip.

The inbound traffic continues to make gains, especially as air travel restrictions and security measures cause delays in air traffic.

Only February in 2003 (with its 28 days!) had less than one million vehicles make the trip, and every month since June set all time records.

Who says the Indian casinos are pulling away Vegas customers!