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Rescue for the Castaways?

Feb 24, 2004 5:23 AM

BUYERS CAN’T RESIST A BARGAIN! The rumors are flying around town that the closed-up Castaways is being eyed by potential purchasers.

Last month, the former Showboat on Boulder Highway was closed, then subsequently foreclosed upon by Vestin Mortgage. Vestin bought the property out of foreclosure and now intends to sell it to whomever will pony up the dough.

The owners of two small casinos, the Bighorn and Longhorn, are supposedly mulling a possible offer for the shuttered Castaways.

But the juicier rumor involves the owner of several major casinos in town, a maverick-style businessman who is always looking for a property to develop.

At this point, we won’t reveal the name of our gaming entrepreneur, only that his style of ownership — fee simple — is a passing breed in this town.

If Mr. X buys the property, we hope he contacts a Hispanic activist we cited in a page 3 story. It seems our activist friend believes the Castaways would make a great Hispanic-themed resort. It would be a first in this town, and we believe it would be a huge moneymaker for its owners.

The Hispanic market is a growing one and shouldn’t be ignored. I’m guessing our pal Mr. X is prudent enough to see those possibilities as well.


"I WAS JUST WALKING THROUGH": That’s what the woman who was seen talking on her cell phone remarked after being yelled at by an employee of a "locals casino" sports book.

"Hey lady," yelled the book employee, "turn off that cell phone”¦You can’t have a cell phone in the book”¦It’s against gaming regulations," he said.

"I’d better get out of here," said the woman into the phone as she rushed out of the sports book, adding, "I didn’t know I was doing anything wrong. I wasn’t even playing anything. I was just walking through.

"You might think I committed a crime, or something," she said as she hurried away.

Even though casino patrons use their cell phones throughout Las Vegas casinos, they’re verboten in race and sports books, part of antiquated regulations designed to thwart messenger betting.

The idea is so ridiculous it’s almost humorous. Almost.


WAVE OF THE FUTURE? Now that Alliance Gaming’s Bally Systems has bought out the private owners of VisionCore, the company just might expand its ability to upgrade casinos looking to let players develop their own comps without need of a casino host or supervisor.

VisinCore, the brainchild of a company called MindPlay LLC, uses an optical system that automatically recognizes chips and playing cards, thus ensuring accurate accounting, player tracking and dealer performance.

The new system has been tested at three Nevada casinos and the results have pleased the Alliance folks. A blackjack version of the system provides real-time information in items such as the length of time played, the actual amount wagered and win/loss amounts. With that information, the house can automatically determine the amount of comps the player has earned.

Looks like another way to improve productivity and cut back on personnel.


KUDOS FOR THE DEL MAR MAN: Credit has to go to Joe Harper, the Del Mar major-domo, who operates the track less than three months a year but spends the remainder of the year improving the site for the following year’s racing season.

At the moment, Harper has several projects underway to improve conditions in the backstretch and add features for the racing fans. The backstretch work involves the complete rebuilding of five barns and providing new living quarters for the caretakers.

In the clubhouse, 48 new boxes providing viewing for 192 people will be located next to the Stretch Run Grill. Also, a new celebrity suite will honor the popular World War II film star Betty Grable. Both Grable and her husband, bandleader Harry James, were racing fans who enjoyed the sport at Del Mar.

A half-dozen years ago, Harper promised fans that he would bring the old Del Mar track into the 21st century, a promise that he fulfills each season.


HACKERS TARGET ONLINE BOOKIES! Online sports books based in Europe and elsewhere are gearing up for possible attacks from Internet hackers.

It seems the hackers are demanding extortion money to keep from gumming up the Internet, notably before major international sporting events.

The first event to be targeted is the Grand National, with coordinated attacks also earmarked for the Euro 2004 Football Tournament.

London bookmakers said the hackers are demanding around 20,000-30,000 British pounds.

The hackers use what is known as a distributed denial of service attack, in which target websites are deluged with requests for information, and thus paralyzing them for 24 hours and more.

It is believed that hackers threatened offshore websites used by U.S. bettors before last month’s Super Bowl.