A different Vegas back in 1993
May 12, 2015 3:00 AM
by Robert Mann
It’s 1993 and GamingToday, formerly Sports Form, now proclaims itself as the oldest newspaper devoted to gambling with its slogan “News You Can Bet On.”
Trainer Mack Miller’s Sea Hero has won the Kentucky Derby 9 days earlier. If you followed the advice of Kentucky racing writer Jim Bolus on the pages of Sports Form you were a winner.
Then Mirage Resorts’ Steve Wynn was rumored to be buying Hartford (Conn.) Jai Alai and Donald Trump was suing the federal government over what he called preferential treatment in granting Indian tribal casino licenses. Plans had just been revealed to build the Strip monorail, although as we now know its not quite on the Strip.
Publisher, editor and lead columnist Chuck Di Rocco reminded his loyal readers, “It takes luck to win. But the Lady (Luck) never stays too long before dancing. The trick is to make sure your money lasts until misfortune passes.” It’s still sage advice.
The Barbary Coast sportsbook offered a nickel line on baseball and guaranteed it for the entire season. Circus Circus Enterprises, not yet swallowed up by MGM/Mirage, was already promoting its new $440,000 football contest and the late Sport of Kings stand-alone race and sportsbook offered Friday night/Saturday horseplayer tournaments.
WBC heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis, then 23-0, easily dispatched Tony Tucker at the Thomas and Mack the previous week and IBF heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe was scheduled to meet unknown Jesse Ferguson in two weeks in Washington, D.C..
Laughlin columnist April Hall reminded readers the “River Days” celebration was continuing along the Colorado. The still flourishing Don Laughlin’s Riverside resort and Casino promoted $66 rooms on weekends and included a show for that same price. No resort fees 22 years ago.
Soon to appear in the Riverside’s showroom were Willie Nelson, Crystal Gayle, Bill Medley, Debbie Reynolds, Yakov Smirnoff, Eddie Rabbit and Boots Randolph.
In Las Vegas, Buddy Hackett headlined at the Desert Inn, Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach at Caesars Palace and The Pointer Sisters were at the Las Vegas Hilton. Frontline star power in Strip casino showrooms was getting more sparse.
Dick Scott’s Sports Media Network was about to begin offering jai alai from Miami for betting purposes in Nevada. However, the action-packed game, previously offered live on the Strip, proved to be less than a hit locally and soon went into retreat even in Miami.
Live jai alai will never be back on the Strip, but one can only wish there was some way the late Buddy Hackett could return. The under appreciated funny man was a Nevada institution who can never be replaced.
In April 1998, five years before his death, Hackett guest starred in an episode of LateLine called “Buddy Hackett.” The episode focuses on a news broadcast paying tribute to Hackett following his death, only to discover that the report of his death was a mistake.
Maybe there’s a chance for a comeback after all.
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