Could there be anotherBenny Binion in making?

November 22, 2000 10:00 AM
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ANOTHER BENNY BINION? Carl Icahn was in our midst last week reviewing the situation. The Baron of Big Bucks loves the Valley of Dollars. I figure he wants only to be another Benny Binion. The legendary gambling pioneer made fame and fortune allowing gamblers to set their own bet limit based on their first play. Icahn is following in his footprint at the Stratosphere Tower. There is a limit -- $100,000. But, Icahn is still in his youth as a casino owner.

Unlike most casino operators, Icahn doesn’t run for cover when a player comes in and tattoos him. One blackjack player has already twice put the sting on the Baron and the proposition continues.

On boulder highway, Carl sent his troops out on a survey. They were ordered to find out the best pay tables on games locals love to pay – video poker. When results came in , Icahn told the troops to up the pay tables to be the best of all the Casinos on the Boulder Strip. The games will include Deuces Wild, Joker Wild and Double Bonus Poker.

Carl reached into his bag of tricks recently and came up with Sid Diamond to run his local bet shops. It was a natural mating. Both are plenty wise and love to gamble. Diamond is packing the house at the Tower with his zany sports proposition bets.

From my observations, Sid is a bookmaker not afraid to put his neck on the line. Icahn loves the action. And, although the lamb sometimes eats the butcher, it’s A-OK and business is on the grow.

WHAT’S NEW PUSSYCAT? It came as no news for readers of Gaming Today when the so-called mainstream press reported over the weekend that Steve DuCharme is calling it a career as the highest ranking member of Nevada’s prestigious Gaming Control Board.

Heard on the Strip leaked the story two months ago (9/15/00 issue):

"He (DuCharme) will be leaving the Gaming Control Board at the end of the year when his term expires. And . . . it would be up to the guv (Kenny Guinn) to fill his shoes."

Expect the governor to soon tell us who will replace DuCharme. It may be a surprise!

NAMES MAKE NEWS: Gene Kilroy is back in the saddle again. After a brief visit to Boca Raton the Big Wheel keeps on turning and Kilroy’s well-heeled players keep on rolling back to the Big Green House where he holds fort . . . Jackie Gaughan and Kenny Epstein, his long-time sidekick, dig the groceries at Café Cloé’s (Flamingo Rd and Buffalo, behind Walgreen’s). Chef Piero Broglia keeps the tables set for the two diners. Ditto Tito Tiberti, Larry Ruvo and his wife, Mike Bonfiglio, Gaming Today’s venerable John Bennett. And, the other night there sat Bob Arum and his wife, Lovee.

Now I know what is so special about Felix Rapapport. The top gun at New York-New York is a Philly-bred. He grew up in Olney and married a girl from Penn State. I grew up in Philadelphia and was a Nittany Lion, too . . . Say it isn’t so: There’s a story going around about a restaurant guru. His quest to open an eatery at a local resort took plenty of persistence. He kept knocking on the door of one certain resort’s boss man. He was finally given a chance to prepare a meal for the gent. The restaurant man rolled up his sleeves and prepared a special meal. I hear it went down well. But, late that night the guest of honor took sick. So much so that he had to be taken to a nearby hospital. Why? Would you believe -- food poisoning?

Mum’s the word on Ralph Engelstad, the owner of the Imperial Palace on the Strip. For awhile rumors were flying to and fro that Ralph wanted out. It’s been awful quiet lately. I wonder if it is the calm before the storm.