VINNY TO JOIN THE MAGIC MAN? One of our in-the-knowsters reports that Steve Wynn will tap long-time race and sports guru Vince Magliulo to set up operations at Wynn Las Vegas (formerly called Le Reve).
Although the property still has more than a year before its scheduled completion in mid-2005, Magliulo will use the time to design and set up all aspects of race and sports operations.
"You know that Steve doesn’t do things in a small way," our pipe says. "He’s going to give Vinny carte blanche in setting up the sports shop. You can expect it will be one of the grandest books in town."
Indeed, Steve is meticulous when it comes to building a casino. You might remember he did something similar when he hired Jimmy Vaccaro to set up the race and sports book at The Mirage in the late 1980s. At the time, The Mirage, along with Caesars Palace and the Las Vegas Hilton, were the premier sports shops in the world.
With the Magic Man and Vinny working hand-in-hand, you can expect more of the same.
THEY’LL BET ON ANYTHING! Even cockroach racing attracts wads of Australian money. For 22 years, the annual Cockroach Racing Festival in the coastal city of Brisbane has attracted thousands of gambling-mad Aussies. And this year is expected to be no different.
The big day is Jan. 26, which is Australia’s national day, and the venue is the Story Bridge Hotel, host of the races.
According to the hosts, the race dates back 23 years when two old horseplayers were arguing over which Brisbane suburb had the biggest and fastest cockroaches. To resolve the dispute, they agreed to return the following day to race some cockroaches.
And thus, history was made.
Last year’s winner, by the way, was "Osama bin Liner," who was lovingly reared by his owner who turned up on race day in full beard and headgear, dressed as the world’s most wanted man.
GAMBLING IN THE CATSKILLS: "They won’t be the first track in New York State to have slot machines," advised a pipe, "but you can bet that you’ll see those so-called video lottery machines installed at Monticello Raceway before year end."
The caller explained that Monticello Raceway, once an extremely popular harness horse track that catered to visitors to the Borscht Belt, is now completely owned by the publicly traded company Empire Resorts (NYNY). It’s expected that Empire Resorts will seek to build a casino next to the track in partnership with the Cayuga Indian Nation.
"It will be a long time before those Empire people can get all their ducks in line for a casino but they can get those machines operating a lot sooner. And besides, they probably could use the money since they don’t have any other source of revenue," explained the pipe.
JUST SIGN THE BOOK: That’s all Pete Rose’s many fans were interested in last week in Santa Clarita, California, where the baseball great spent several hours signing his latest book, "Pete Rose: My Prison Without Bars."
And that was all Rose would do, that is, sign books. Those fans who brought along memorabilia for autographs were turned down. All, that is, except for a six-month-old boy whose parent asked that Rose sign his shirt. Rose did.
Obviously those standing in line couldn’t resist giving their views regarding Major League Baseball’s ban on Rose and whether it should be removed so that Rose could be elected to the Hall of Fame.
Generally, the fans were strong Rose supporters. And, as one fan said, "You need to separate what he did off the field and what he did on the field. You can’t have the greatest hitter ever sitting on the sidelines."
BETTING’S BACK IN BAGHDAD: Kudos to the Washington Post for finding a side of the Iraqi story that probably would have gone unreported for months or years. Horse racing is alive, and reasonably well in Baghdad. Who would have believed it?
According to Post foreign service writer Pamela Constable, horse racing involving mostly Arabian breds, returned to the Baghdad Equestrian Club shortly after the fall of the Saddam regime. But there’s a big difference.
Both the fans attending the races and the country’s premiere breeder of horses quickly noted that, with the absence of Saddam’s two sons, the races can now be run honestly.
When Hussen’s son Uday raced his horses during the oppressive regime, "his horses had to win or the winner would be punished." They told of beatings right in front of the stands!
"Thanks to the coalition for allowing us to have fun again," remarked one racegoer who spent his time between races betting on a dice game.