Las Vegas before.....

Re: Las Vegas before.....

This is a great thread...lived here since '97 and been coming here since '86 and really enjoy reading about the DAYS of VEGAS..sounds like a lot of fun...Please keep this thread updated...
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

While the movie was based on some known facts, it certainly was victim of Hollywood's need to exagerate the truth. Tony was certainly not the loud mouth tough guy in public, as depicted in the movie. What strikes me as funny is how the movie depicted all of the Kansas City wise guys as dumb and illiterate. That was certainly not the case. They got nailed becausesome moron kept legitimate books, and turned them over to the Feds. Then everyone ratted everyone else out in Vegas. I can remember the "entertainment" director at the Tropicana getting involved, though I forgot his name. They had to drag a former "Boss" out of retirement in Palm Springs to run the operations in Vegas, and that did not work out. So they "boys" decided to get out of Vegas, for the most part. Now Vegas is nothing more than a vacation resort spot with gaming. All the major chains are more concerned about making a profit in every aspect, such as room prices, food prices, drink prices, show prices, etc... as well as casino profits. It is not, and will never be the same as the "Golden Era" of Las Vegas, from Bugsy to the beginning of the end, when Hughes bought the Desert Inn.
You're right, Anthony Spilotro was not a loud mouth tough guy in public, far from it. The "entertainment director" was Joe Agosto.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Arrogance was constant with the 2 Dickies. However the wire taps were powerful and our hearing failed to throw the taps out but did show the goverments disreguard for the truth. Who are you buddy?
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Obviously Tony S. was not a good guy, but he always took care of myself and my family when we visited Vegas, even though he never met anyone in my family other than myself. Certain precautions had to be taken. It was like he had a split personality. On the one hand, he was a rather quiet guy who enjoyed his family and his friends who were not in the "business". On the other hand, he could be ruthless. He would make quite a study for some Psych major.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Brandy Brandenberg
Bob Gregorka
Kieth Glantz
Russ Culver
Jay Kornegay
Bobby Bredice
Jack Lysaight
Mugsy
John Bennett
Gene Mayday
Scotty (of course)
Art Manteris
Sonny Riesner
Bert Osbourne
Horseshoe guy..Bogdonavich?
Vinny from Caesars..
Gary the crook Austin..

I'm sure I missed a few...
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Brandy Brandenberg
Bob Gregorka
Kieth Glantz
Russ Culver
Jay Kornegay
Bobby Bredice
Jack Lysaight
Mugsy
John Bennett
Gene Mayday
Scotty (of course)
Art Manteris
Sonny Riesner
Bert Osbourne
Horseshoe guy..Bogdonavich?
Vinny from Caesars..
Gary the crook Austin..

I'm sure I missed a few...
Worked with Gregorka and Reizner each(different locations) for 2+ years.......and was great friends with Vinny's brother BIG BOB, who was a supervisor at the old Sands, but tragically passed away a few years ago. Big Bob was one of my all-time favorite human beings that I ever had the pleasure of meeting in Sin CIty.

Mr. Sonny Reizner knew more about operating a sportsbook, sportsbetting, and booking on his little finger than Bob Gregorka ever knew or forgot......now having slammed Bob as I just did, will have a few brewskis at the bar with him anytime, good guy and always good for a few laughs.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

You're right, Anthony Spilotro was not a loud mouth tough guy in public, far from it. The "entertainment director" was Joe Agosto.
I am pretty sure I made a bet for him at Churchill one day. Was going to summer school at UNLV and was in the race book. I was a 23 at the time and he was in the very back of the book. He said "here is 50$ bet this horse kid". I went up to the clerk (an old guy with gray hair combed back and glasses on the end of his nose that he looked over the top of) he looked up at me and then looked at the back row and nodded, wrote the ticket and gave it back to me. Was that Harry Gordon who wrote the ticket? The horse never got a call. I was the youngest person in the race book by easily 10-15 years
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

I am pretty sure I made a bet for him at Churchill one day. Was going to summer school at UNLV and was in the race book. I was a 23 at the time and he was in the very back of the book. He said "here is 50$ bet this horse kid". I went up to the clerk (an old guy with gray hair combed back and glasses on the end of his nose that he looked over the top of) he looked up at me and then looked at the back row and nodded, wrote the ticket and gave it back to me. Was that Harry Gordon who wrote the ticket? The horse never got a call. I was the youngest person in the race book by easily 10-15 years
That was indeed Harry Gordon, do you remember the candy bowl next to him. If you stuck your hand into it he'd look over those granny glasses to make sure you didn't get more than two pieces.

In the 1960s, Harry Gordon opened the Churchill Downs Race & Sports book. Harry brought Bob Martin in to take over the sports, but it wasHarry himself who ran the horse side. Besides Churchill on the Strip, Harry also owned the Derby and Hollywood race and sports books downtown. Other books around Las Vegas at the time included the Paddock, Saratoga, Del Mar, Santa Anita, and Rose Bowl. Hotel casinos didn’t have them on property till 1976 when the Nevada regulations were changed.

Harry was a stone cold bookie; he had no fear, or at least he didn’t show it. He booked with his own money and would take just about anything in the horses. No pari-mutuels in those days, we paid track odds. Just put it up, and Harry would accommodate you. He was partnered up with equally fearless bookmakers on the sports side. Harry would never sweat a horse or game. He’d worry if the soda machine wasn’t stocked; he’d travel to Henderson to get a good deal on the cookies and candy for the horse book but wouldn’t blink at a six-figure decision, horses or sports.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Brandy Brandenberg
Bob Gregorka
Kieth Glantz
Russ Culver
Jay Kornegay
Bobby Bredice
Jack Lysaight
Mugsy
John Bennett
Gene Mayday
Scotty (of course)
Art Manteris
Sonny Riesner
Bert Osbourne
Horseshoe guy..Bogdonavich?
Vinny from Caesars..
Gary the crook Austin..

I'm sure I missed a few...
(Make Gregorka & Lenny DelGenio an entry)
Mel Exber > Las Vegas Club
Lefty, Ray Lenzi, Richard Klamian, Lew Koppel, Joey Boston, Marty Kane >all Stardust
Bill Dark > Del Mar
Frank Hall, Harry Gordon, Bob Martin >all Churchill
RD > Paddock
Jay Garland > Paddock, Casears (1st book in back)
Vic Salerno >Leyroys old & new
Bill Balaeo > Hollywood (Harry Gordons son in law)
Johnny Quinn > Union Plazza
Jim Girrard > Royal Casino
Jimmy Vaccaro > Royal Inn, Barbery Coast, MGM, Leyroys, Luckys
Sammy Cohen, Jeff Garrett, Richard Bloom > Santa Anita
Dom & Bobby > Tropicana

Really stretching for a few of these guys
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Fast Eddie was way worse than Anthony...
Fast Eddie middled himself on Notre Dame = took 6.5 & layed 7.5 > fell 7. Eddie always had a figure to work off, he could never pass a craps table or poker table. He even played the horse machine, you know the one that little horses run around.
One day it was a fog out in Chicago but they still ran @ Arlington. You couldn't see anything on the screen, absolutely zero but Eddie was still rooting for his horse, he swore he could see him. Another time at The Stardust he was running to the phones, ran over a tourist & flattened him. Eddie threw a cecil at him and kept going. He died a young man of natural causes, heart attack I think.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

In the 1960s, Harry Gordon opened the Churchill Downs Race & Sports book. Harry brought Bob Martin in to take over the sports, but it wasHarry himself who ran the horse side. Besides Churchill on the Strip, Harry also owned the Derby and Hollywood race and sports books downtown. Other books around Las Vegas at the time included the Paddock, Saratoga, Del Mar, Santa Anita, and Rose Bowl. Hotel casinos didn’t have them on property till 1976 when the Nevada regulations were changed.
Scotty, I'll bet you a beer that the Stardust Race and Sports book opened in 1975. "Lefty" had just beaten his interstate(Bobby Kennedy-1961) problems. In 1976, I was there the night Frank Sinatra was on his hotel TV show. Did you ever know a Stardust casino host by the name of Gino Simerili(sp?)?
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Scotty, I'll bet you a beer that the Stardust Race and Sports book opened in 1975. "Lefty" had just beaten his interstate(Bobby Kennedy-1961) problems. In 1976, I was there the night Frank Sinatra was on his hotel TV show. Did you ever know a Stardust casino host by the name of Gino Simerili(sp?)?
My $$$ is on you, 1975 you're probably right. Didn't know a host by that name, could'a known him by face maybe. That show was something > Joey Boston "Lefty you're the greatest handicapper in the world.....". Lefty took much the best of the odds on the show....Great stuff
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

newport2

The oldest host I knew at The Stardust was Phil Dioguardi(sp).....let me add in those days casino hosts were really hosts.....to all, not just the whales
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

It's hard to understand if you've never experienced LV in those days. Personally I had no BR to speak of, it was all in my front right pocket. BUT I never had to pay for anything. Airplanes, anything in a hotel (dinners, shows, rooms, etc), doctors were free, even had an operation comped. No strings attached. You should know the things I refused that had strings attached.

My kids got very good money on their highschool gratuations and weddings. Now you can't get a coffee comped unless you blow a thousand coffees first.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Scotty, Gino had a KC brother(Frank) that was in on the "skim." I met you a couple of times during the basketball lottery with Jamie. He would pick me up(Stardust) when I was in town and we would go to the Sporting House and play basketball. His side rarely lost. Imagine that.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

It's hard to understand if you've never experienced LV in those days. Personally I had no BR to speak of, it was all in my front right pocket. BUT I never had to pay for anything. Airplanes, anything in a hotel (dinners, shows, rooms, etc), doctors were free, even had an operation comped. No strings attached. You should know the things I refused that had strings attached.

My kids got very good money on their highschool gratuations and weddings. Now you can't get a coffee comped unless you blow a thousand coffees first.
They don't comp the Horse players no more? The Gold and Barbary coast always compted my drinks and food even in the early 1990's,I only bet the horses at those 2 places....
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

My oldest brother lived in Vegas for 17yrs, he talked to Shep 7-days a week they were like brothers.... I remember when I flew to Vegas for 4-days. it was me, Shep, Lil Johnny, Aldo, Michael, and my oldest brother was at the Barbary coast betting House Q's, that was the most winners I ever witnessed in my entire life on that trip, you couldn't beat them playing the House Q"s with the rebate...........
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Scotty,

Two others I remember from your Cal Neva Reno days was a old guy ( I was 30) back then and I am sure he was from Fresno named LeRoy. He would lay big favorites in baseball -280 was almost too short of a price for him back then. He wore jeans and red checked cowboy shirts. You took his action and never blinked an eye and the other was Hank Lauer (studdering Hank) a super nice guy and I think he was a money mover for someone in either LV or LA. Used to see Hank on occasion at MGM and then Bally's, Hilton in Reno. He would be around and then vanish. Haven't seen Hank in ages. Also want to get my copy of your book autographed next time I visit LV. Thanks for all the stories from your time as a bookmaker.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Scotty,

Two others I remember from your Cal Neva Reno days was a old guy ( I was 30) back then and I am sure he was from Fresno named LeRoy. He would lay big favorites in baseball -280 was almost too short of a price for him back then. He wore jeans and red checked cowboy shirts. You took his action and never blinked an eye and the other was Hank Lauer (studdering Hank) a super nice guy and I think he was a money mover for someone in either LV or LA. Used to see Hank on occasion at MGM and then Bally's, Hilton in Reno. He would be around and then vanish. Haven't seen Hank in ages. Also want to get my copy of your book autographed next time I visit LV. Thanks for all the stories from your time as a bookmaker.
Has to be the same LeRoy from Fresno: Leroy was a big baseball bettor in the mid-1970s. He started with a small, borrowed BR and built it up by betting only big favorites. The bigger the favorite the better. His layout could be several hundred thousand dollars. He took the worst of it on every wager, but he kept winning. He was superstitious in wearing the same shirt while making a laydown and not shaving.

He would start downtown and make an initial lay down. After he made that first bet, all the remaining books were alerted and adjusted, big favorites even higher. Leroy didn’t care; he’d lay $3.00 with no hesitation.

We knew the script. He was fantastically successful in baseball, but the season had to end. Leroy couldn’t help himself. He bet football, teasers no less. The teasers broke him. He turned up in Reno later, betting $50 (Washingtons) teasers.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Club Cal-Neva in Reno, I opened a R&S book for Warren Nelson in 1980 I think it was. Lots of storys. One time a racebook customer fell over dead at his spot in the race book. He was lying on the floor, and some creep took the dead man’s tickets from the table. The creep was stupid enough to cash the only winner, a $2 ticket. We had him arrested, which wasn’t done much. Casinos in those days usually "handled stuff" themselves. In fact, downstairs in the main casino, a customer took a $50,000 bundle from the cashier windows and ran out. They eventually ran him down, and Warren wouldn’t press charges. He was pissed at the cashier, though, for being so careless. As far as the slow-running thief, Warren's exact words were "What the hell was he supposed to do?"

Do you remember Ollie, the really old guy who pitched for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Was with us every day.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

More Reno> Free drink tickets were a big thing in Reno. All the casinos had their own drink tickets. Hand one to a waitress or bartender, and you’ve got yourself a drink. It seemed like half of Reno was alcoholics. It was a different town, really the wild West. Cal-Neva drink tickets were premium. On the street, one Cal-Neva drink ticket could get you two Harrah's tickets or three from Harold's Club. They were like currency among the large Reno free booze crowd. We would sometimes run out of the damn things and have to borrow them from the customers, who would have stacks of them hoarded up. For Monday Night Football, we had a promotion in which if your team was ahead at halftime you get a free hot dog and beer. You had to bring your wagering ticket up to the counter, show it to Bobby the Owl, and he was supposed to stamp it and give you a comp for a hot dog and beer.

So Bobby's sitting there one Monday Night Football Game. Bobby's used to Las Vegas, and he doesn't really want to do this. So he'd throw the tickets at people, thinking he's much smarter than these yahoos (his opinion, not mine) in Reno, and he shouldn't have to deal with them.

One guy comes up, and Bobby throws the ticket at him and says: "Where you gonna eat the rest of the week?"

The guy says: "Hey, Bobby, come on, all I want is my hot dog".

Bobby snaps at him again. "Yeah, sure. Where you gonna eat the rest of the week?"

It turns out the guy was the governor's brother-in-law. Warren heard about it and told me to get Bobby the hell out of his casino. That was the Owls last break. He was on his way back to LV next day. Prior to this latest embarrassment Bobby got another break, an overlook really. I had to convince Bobby to quit betting for a guy in LV or someone would fire him. Besides, he was making it look like I didn’t have a handle on the book. Bobby was getting writers wages and betting $5,000 a game for his buddy in LV. The guy sent him a package, but Bobby was going around pretending the bets were his. In total, it was too much; I couldn’t save him.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

I still have a few of the old "red" disc drink tokes from the Cal Neva Days, LOL!!! I can remember trying to navigate the crowd at 9a.m. on Sat during college BB as you had Bingo where you handed out coffee and doghnuts and most of Reno's less fortunate at least had a sugar fix and something warm to drink to start the day, that was in the Sports Book and you probably got forced with that because you had the largest venue. You had the best horse book with the "Twin Quin" and also the World Champioship of Horse racing. Hans "Tuna" Lund was the initial winner and only 29 entries I believe. Also for your bankroll of 500$ it ws live and whatever you had left was yours. It became the best "tournament" player wise ever and of course you had "full comp" for the 3 days event.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Willy Loman and myself at the dinner table the other night...you should have heard some of the stories...

Included the owner and CEO at CRIS, one of the owners of Pinny, 3 other owners of under the radar books, two Vegas professionals, and the BP bosses....should have had a video camera going...
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Willy Loman and myself at the dinner table the other night...you should have heard some of the stories...

Included the owner and CEO at CRIS, one of the owners of Pinny, 3 other owners of under the radar books, two Vegas professionals, and the BP bosses....should have had a video camera going...
Kinda like Appalacian II
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Speaking of dinners, we held a dinner for every player we had, 2$ scufflers up to ..............It was a real feast, everyone was all shined up and their best manners(?) were dusted off. Anyone out there been to one of them?

STARDUST PLAYER APPRECIATION DINNER(pg 141) The Stardust Race & Sportsbook held a yearly appreciation dinner for our players and what a dinner it was. A huge buffet type layout with nothing held back. Giant ice carvings at each end with mountains of top-shelf eats in between. Wine, seafood, carving station, numerous entrees, salads, deserts. Top-shelf even by LV standards. The tickets were free and were made like tickets to a big time game. Every $10 parlay player, $2 horse bettor, runner, wise guy, or high roller was invited. They came all shined up for the "social event" of the LV betting community. No seating arrangements. You might have a $20 bettor sitting at the same table with a $50k a day high roller.

During our first one, we discovered the one thing we missed. The diners kept leaving to run to the sportsbook for score updates. The next year we installed a reader board for them. We also tripled the wine reserve. Our GM John Minor and Casino Manager Richard Schuetz had a great time rubbing elbows with this crowd. They saw Plaza Joe shine up a "pretty" oyster shell and put it in his pocket, heard Lem Banker talk about himself, saw Mary in a different hat, and Franklin in a light green leisure suit with black dress shoes.

Bottom line, we really did appreciate our players who somehow managed to come up fresh every day, no matter how bad they were going. It’ll never happen in today’s mercenary, sterile LV. There were odds on who'd be first in the buffet line—Bobby the Owl, Hungry Hal, or our very own Richard Saber. Richard came through for us the first year. He was third favorite behind Hooter (the Owl) and Hungry Hal but came out of the gate strong. Had the Las Vegas society pages covered it, the write up would have ended: A good time was had by all.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Another food story (although a bit earlier):

SAVE ME AN EGG SALAD, WILL YA?(pg 36) On Saturday mornings at Churchill, Bob(Martin) would always order seventy-five egg salad sandwiches from Jackie's Deli and seventy-five steak sandwiches from the Tower of Pizza. It was Sarge's job to go get them, and this was Sarge's moment in the sun. Every Saturday morning about ten o'clock, Sarge became the man because everybody depended on him to get in his cab and go get the sandwiches.

"Hey, Sarge, when you gonna get the sandwiches?"

He?d play the role to perfection. "Ah, I don't know, pretty soon."

Eventually he would mosey out to his taxicab?Sarge?s normal speed was moseying?and drive off. So now he was gone, and everybody was waiting on these sandwiches like it was the highlight of the whole week?and for some, it was. The ritual would start in the beginning of the week. The shortstops (small bettors) would whisper to the writers.

"Hey, save me an egg salad, okay?" or "Save me a steak, will yah?"

It was a status symbol. If you got a sandwich, you were one of the guys (at least till you ate it), one of Churchill?s in crowd. Some guys would try to order two, one from Jackie's and one from the Tower of Pizza, from two different writers.

So, now it was about eleven o'clock Saturday morning, and they'd start looking outside for Sarge?s cab. "Hey, you see Sarge yet?"

Someone would see a cab. "Hey, I think I see him!"

"That?s an ACE Cab, you dummy. Sarge has a Yellow Cab".

Soon enough, Sarge would pull up with cardboard boxes filled with sandwiches, and what awesome sandwiches they were. Behind the sports counter, they went for the writers to hand out. The guys would be like cattle, rushing up to the sports counter. They sweat scores all week, but while the sandwiches were in play, the scores could wait.

There was this one guy named Lupo, which in Italian means wolf. He was another cabdriver, and like Sarge, Lupo never picked up a fare. His entire life was devoted to scamming people. If he had the choice of picking a fare up and making $20 or scamming somebody for $5, he'd choose the scam.

Lupo would start on Monday, one writer at a time, "save me a sandwich, will ya?" He would somehow always manage to get four or five sandwiches, and then he?d take him out and sell them. He had a route, I guess. He'd put ten times the energy into his scams than it would have taken to pick up a fare.

The whole scene was like a government experiment. How to turn grown men, men who bet serious money, into mush for an instant.

Later on Saturdays, in the afternoon, Harry Gordon would spring for ten-cent ice cream bars. Joe Green, the Churchill porter, would hand them out. Harry the stone cold bookmaker who could lose five figures on a horse and not flinch, but he?d tell Joe not to give the sports writers any ice cream. On the level, but Joe would always sneak us some though, under the threat of punishment. Once Ray Lenzi, who was sports book manager by that time, told Harry about a huge monster decision we had on a game that night. Harry replied after some thought, "Did Titus fill up the soda machine?"
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

While thinking of Churchill I just had a scary thought. What if nobody looked in the door when they leveled Churchill:

THE DOOR At the end of the day, the square money (not bet by sharp guys or wiseguys) went over to Harrys office on the race book side. The rest of the money went into "the door." On the inside door of the sports book office, there was a special molding that covered up a trap door within the door. No one could tell by looking at it. Pull the molding down and the door was full of money. Money no auditor ever counted. Money from some of the sharpest "R" bettors in Las Vegas. The office had your standard floor safe as well, for a legit BR to open with next morning. Kind of like the way our government does its business.

Every morning right up through the late 1970s, before we opened, we had to go to our man’s house to get the updated figures from the previous day’s under-the-table action. It was in code in case the wrong people confiscated it. These figures, these accounts, were of bettors even bigger than the "R" ticket guys. These were credit players. If one of them settled, either pay or collect, it happened in private. No paperwork. It could never happen today in Las Vegas. The GCB is vigilant, and it’s all done on computer with a paper trail.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

Unfortunately, it will never be the same. Vegas is now nothing more than another resort spot with the exception of gaming. The people that now run Harrah's, the MGM-Mirage, and other hotels must show a profit from every aspect of their business, such as rooms, food, the gift shop, as well as the casino. Back in the day, the casino was the profit maker and took care of all of the other aspects of the hotel. Those days are gone. Blame it on Howard Hughes, Hilton, or whomever you want to blame it on, but it is an unfortunate fact.

It is true that racebooks do not shell out for free booze or food anymore, unless you wager a certain amount. I had a friend who was at the Golden Nugget book. He ordered a drink, and the gal told him that he would have to show her a $20.00 wager to have the drink comped. How bad is that? Last summer, the Sportsbook at Bally's was actually closed for a couple of months, and their patrons were detoured to the Paris Sportsbook. That is very sad, because Bally's has a great set-up, down stairs and away from the main casino, and next to the food court. Harrah's screwed everyting up when they took over the Caesars properties.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

A properly run R&S book can add to the bottom line of not only the casino but the hotels bottom line as well. We would fill the rooms on weekdays, that would be empty without us, with sports bettors who by the way tend to be loose with their money. The bars, resturants and tables all profited. Tips were great all over. Everyone was happy, even Mr Clean fed off the energy.

The guys upstairs might not understand the booking business, they knew a 3% hold in the sports book couldnt match 17% from the tables or even 16% from the horses BUT they weren't stupid either. They could compare bottom lines pre & post sportsbooks. One owner I worked for (not The Stardust) even told me to ignore the accountants and do whatever the hell I wanted to do. Just get that $$$ into the building and the game(the entire property) would take care of itself, the game was in our favor. Of course we weren't stupid either, we put together some impressive winning streaks in the book also.

Never happen today. If you have a losing day the owners think that money is lost forever. Most of them went to too much college and not enough highschool. The thought that the players would just hold it overnight and if you run a good book they'll give you a shot at it tomorrow never occurs to them.

It's the same 20$ bill. We hold it 20 days a month and the players hold it ten days. Try to explain that to a bean counter.
 

John Kelly

Born Gambler
Staff member
Re: Las Vegas before.....

The Stardust did a magnificent job of promoting its casino through the race and sports book. For years, when a gambler mentioned the Stardust, you immediately thought of the race and sports book, and vice versa.
 

John Kelly

Born Gambler
Staff member
Re: Las Vegas before.....

I remember the oohs and aahs at the old Stardust Race and Sports Book when Oklahoma played Kansas in the 1988 NCAA men's basketball title game. Oklahoma was as high as an 8.5-point favorite in the game, but then the late money started pouring in on Kansas. I distinctly recall three line moves off the old Stardust board in the final hour of wagering: from OU -8.5 to -8 to -7.5 to -7. The money was on the right side as KU upset OU, 83-79. Danny Manning carried his team to victory with 31 points and 18 rebounds. Always loved the nickname, "Manning and the Miracles."
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

The Stardust did a magnificent job of promoting its casino through the race and sports book. For years, when a gambler mentioned the Stardust, you immediately thought of the race and sports book, and vice versa.
Stardust management estimated we added 3% to the entire properties bottom line. Not just the R&S book win but all departments, hotel as well as gambling. That's a huge number.
 
Re: Las Vegas before.....

The Stardust board for race and sports back in the early days was legendary....changes to the lines caused quite a stir among the crowd....
It was Lefty who built the Stardust Race & Sportsbook. I was simply handed the keys. My job was to drive it and don't wreck it...........

THE LEFTHANDER
The 1995 movie Casino was about the Stardust, Frank Lefty Rosenthal, and Tony Spilotro. Robert De Niro played Lefty aka Ace Rothstein in the movie. Sharon Stone played Jerri, his wife. Joe Pesci played Tony Spilotro, and the Stardust was called the Tangiers. The race and sportsbook in the movie was not the Stardust but was an unopened book in the Jockey Club. The Casino story line was basically correct but didn’t portray Lefty’s vision in creating the Stardust Race and Sportsbook. Lefty, a master handicapper, moved from his hometown Chicago to Miami, and then to Las Vegas in 1968. He began running the Rose Bowl Race and Sportsbook on the Strip. He was tapped by his hometown Chicago Outfit in the ‘70s to look out for their interests in the Stardust Hotel & Casino.

While in this position, he conceived and built a race and sportsbook for the Stardust. Way ahead of his time, he saw the power of a race and sports book as a money machine benefiting an entire property, not just a little niche in the corner as was the business decision of other hotels. What ingenious ideas Lefty had and brought to fruition. Remember, race and sportsbooks in the hotels were not much more than a small betting counter, an afterthought. Even Caesars Palace had but a small carousel of a sportsbook. So small, in fact, players would reach around and change odds on the boards when the sportsbook personnel weren’t paying attention.

Lefty had the blessings of Chicago behind him. Lefty, who may have never cracked a smile in his life, saw the big picture and didn’t have to answer to corporate suits upstairs and their bean counters in the basement. He built a mammoth race and sportsbook with ceilings three stories high. The race and sports boards were a couple stories high themselves, reaching almost to the ceiling. They were big enough to require catwalks and ladders behind them, so odds and results could be put in by hand, much like the Fenway Park or Wrigley Field scoreboards.

He installed a state-of-the art satellite TV system with a monster theater screen and a compliment of smaller screens to bring in games and races other books didn’t even acknowledge as existing. He had a maintenance crew assigned exclusively to take care of the satellite system and TVs. People flocked to the Stardust.

The race book boards were the best ever. Nothing in today’s advanced tech age can compare; the players loved them. They were so easy to read compared to today’s electronic boards. The race book behind-the-scenes process started at 6:00 a.m. when two girls typed entries, jockeys, and morning odds into a machine that transferred them to film. The girls would then take the film to the racebook's dark room to develop them. They were actually negatives when developed. Each race was on a 6" X 12" negative. Five or six tracks minimum were produced. Once developed, the girls would call upstairs to the boardroom so a race book board man would come down and get them. He took the films back upstairs to the cavernous boardroom, which resembles a spaceship. There would be a five- or six-man crew up in the catwalks and control room. Two rows of race boards, each a story tall with its own catwalk. The guys could maneuver the catwalks like Tarzan. The monster room was dim with a speaker system that added to the spaceship atmosphere. Where did the negatives come in? Lefty had big projectors installed behind each race board, over fifty of them. The negatives were placed on each projector in their proper order of track and race. They were then projected onto the rear of the giant boards and the 6" X 12" negatives were now projected to 3.5’ X 7’. Our customers on the other side, down on the main floor, had a clear, easy to read black and white of every race.

As race results came in, a man in the control room, located in the guts of the boardroom, announced the results to the guys on the catwalks who would open up the corresponding door and insert the results, again like Fenway. To protect the customers from errors, Lefty installed a movable video camera way on the opposite side of the racebook, facing the boards, so the man in the control room could scan the posted results for accuracy. The racebook players had no idea what went into this process. All they saw were big, neat boards. Good thing.

The race board men were a unique crew, kind of like a parallel workforce. Some of them may have actually bunked in that cavernous area. They had couches on each catwalk. A girlfriend or two were rumored to have visited. When I took over in 1983, I just pretended I never saw anything. The work was always done on time. They didn’t need a supervisor. Enough said. Upper management and security didn’t venture up there since it was only accessible by a ladder, like a submarine only in the air. Once, however, the fire department did go up there on an inspection. The control room walls were covered with hundreds of pinups. They had to come down—fire hazard, you know.

The sports boards, on the other side of the book, were a one-man operation in a much smaller setting. The sports boards and room covered about one-fifth the area of the race boards. They were located on the second floor, directly above the sportsbook counter. Two rows with three 5’ X 6’ boards in each row. A bottom row with another row on top. Each board was on hinges making it a door, in fact. Results and odds were displayed on plaques and cards, again like Fenway. The bottom three boards were floor level while the top row was reached with a big, rolling ladder. Every team ever booked, in every sport, pitchers in baseball, league names, dates, times, etc., were on permanent plaques. When a new pitcher was brought up from the minors, or a fight or any event not on a plaque was booked, we made a plaque for it, right in the boardroom. There were trays of letters and numbers that could cover everything. Changes in the odds, from the sportsbook directly below, were announced to the sportsbook customers via speakers hooked up to a mike and also to the board man upstairs. The board man would open the big doors and put odds changes or scores in their slots. He had a ticker for scores and a TV.

The board men on the sports side were a unique breed also, and much more a part of the betting action due to the constant odds changes. They were also partially visible when they opened the big doors. The most unique was Bobby the Beard. Bobby was my favorite board man. We shared a passion for doo-wop music. Bobby had an awesome collection and unmatched knowledge of doo-wop. I was sorry to see him go. However, one Friday about 10:00 p.m. Bobby spells out a message on the boards, closes up, and goes home. The message read, for the entire casino to see: "REAGAN ENDS WELLFARE CREATES 5000 NBA TEAMS." No more Bobby the Beard at the Stardust. Later, in the 90s, after I had left the Stardust, Lefty’s boards would be replaced with electronic boards, much to the customers’ chagrin.


Another unique event also took place at night. In 1986, my good friend, swing shift worker Jay Johnson, was in my office, arranging TV games on the satellite control panel to show out in the sportsbook. All of the sudden, the whole place erupted, howling, laughter. Jay found two elephants going at it on National Geographic and put them on the huge screen for the race and sportsbook to see. D’Wayne Mauldin, his supervisor, broke the twenty-yard dash record getting back there to take them down.
 
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