JIMMY, WHERE ART THOU?That’s what we were asking last week when GamingToday visited the sports book at the beautiful Atlantis Resort in Nassau, the Bahamas. For the past year, Jimmy Vaccaro, former director of race and sports at The Mirage in Las Vegas, has been running the bookmaking operation (or so we’ve been told!) at the Atlantis, a property operated by the Kerzner Group.
When GT asked for Vaccaro (famed while at the Mirage for having taken the largest — $2.4 million — legal sports bet in the history of bookmaking) at the island paradise, we were told he was not at the property. Nor was he on the island!
"He’s on vacation in Las Vegas," answered the ticket writer. "Actually, he’s been on vacation since the beginning of the year and we’re hoping he’ll be back by the end of the month (February)."
We haven’t heard yet whether Jimmy has reappeared on the job so we are asking, "Jimmy, where are you?"
Moreover, given Jimmy’s fear of flying, we’re hopeful he didn’t have to walk all the way back from Sin City.
BIG PROFITS EXPECTED: Although little has been written about the locale, there is little doubt that the major casinos that sought a gaming license in the Chinese off-shore island of Macau did their homework.
Although Macau lacks a vigilant group like Nevada’s Gaming Control Board, unofficial estimates indicate that gaming magnate Stanley Ho’s monopoly of a couple of dozen sleazy casinos took in some $3.5 billion in gaming revenues last year. That’s sizable when compared to the approximate $4.8 billion generated by Las Vegas casinos during that period.
And, since the large majority of Macau customers are Asian, the games of choice are tiles for pai gow or cards for baccarat. That could change when gaming operators Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn erect their Las Vegas style casinos, probably including some shiny new slot machines.
A GROWTH YEAR UNDERWAY? Some gaming analysts have turned positive on the growth of gaming nationally during 2004. There was little movement last year as some states failed to find common ground in developing the kind of legislation that the majority of lawmakers could approve.
But, already progress is being seen in a number of states where potential gaming laws have been kicking around state legislatures. Last week, Oklahoma opened the door for its racetracks to install Class II gaming machines, a move that will also affect Native Americans looking to grow their gaming establishments.
Progress also has been reported in Maryland, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania where video lottery machines are under consideration.
And, with the courts deciding that Class II machines don’t violate the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, look for more tribes to go that route. In fact, some observers have suggested that Indian casinos in California, under pressure to fork over some gaming revenue to the state, may elect to install unregulated Class II machines and snub their noses at Aaaaaarnold.
In any case, this could be a big year for California, as well as other states close to embracing gaming.