Posts tagged casino history

The latest in my series of chapter-by-chapter summaries/teasers,…

The latest in my series of chapter-by-chapter summaries/teasers, chapter 2. Enjoy!

In this video, I talk about my plan to summarize the book in a…

In this video, I talk about my plan to summarize the book in a few short videos and discuss the prologue and first chapter.

In this video, I talk about my plan to summarize the book in a…

In this video, I talk about my plan to summarize the book in a few short videos and discuss the prologue and first chapter.

In this video, I talk about my plan to summarize the book in a…

In this video, I talk about my plan to summarize the book in a few short videos and discuss the prologue and first chapter.

South Africa and the Strip

The Sun City resort, which Sol Kerzner opened in Bophuthatswana in 1979,  featured many of the amenities that would characterize Las Vegas Strip “mega-resorts” in the 1990s, and Steve Wynn credited Kerzner’s resort as an influence on The Mirage, which itself sparked the boom on the Strip.

Learn more about casinos in South Africa and everywhere else in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

Nick the Greek in Vegas

Nick “the Greek” Dandolos was one of the most legendary gamblers in Las Vegas history. He claimed to have had more than $500 million pass through his hands as wins and losses during his gambling career. But he didn’t live lavishly; for years he lived in a $10-a-night hotel room.

There’s lots more about famous and infamous gamblers  in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

World’s Biggest Bingo Hall

In the early 1980s, bingo halls on tribal lands throughout the United States exploded. These bingo halls generally did not follow state rules on maximum jackpots, so they were incredibly popular. They formed the foundation for today’s tribal gaming industry.

In 1984, the Otoe Missouria Indians opened what they billed as the world’s biggest bingo hall, the 6,000-seat Red Rock Bingo Palace in north-central Oklahoma.

You can learn more about tribal government gaming and the development of casinos on Indian reservations  in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

LV Strip’s 1st Gourmet Casino Dining

For the first 20 or so years, Las Vegas Strip casino restaurants were strictly loss leaders, with the fare passable but nothing to write home about.

Chester Simms, general manager of the Flamingo, changed that when he opened the Candlelight Room, the Strip’s first real gourmet restaurants, in 1961. Today we’re used to casinos sourcing seafood from all over the world, but flying in fresh Maine lobsters daily was innovative fifty years ago.

You can read much more about the Flamingo and other casinos, in Las Vegas and around the world, in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling

Go here to read an excerpt from the book, or learn where to buy your copy.

From the book: The first poker machine

Lots of people have heard of San Francisco mechanic Charles Fey’s Liberty Bell, which was the first auto-pay reel slot to gain popularity. He unveiled it in 1899.

Fewer people know that the first coin-operated slot machine, a device that flipped through five decks of cards, with winners paid off in kind (not in cash) for “winning” hands.

It was an early, analog video poker machine. And it was invented in 1891, 8 years before Fey’s Liberty Bell, in Brooklyn, New York.

That’s just one of the many fascinating things you’ll read about in Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling.

Great event at SNCCC last night

As I mentioned a few days ago, last night I was scheduled to give a talk at the meeting of the Southern Nevada Casino Collectibles Club

I had a great time talking to the collectors. Usually when I speak to groups, I  give a straight talk about casino history. But knowing how savvy collectors are about casino history (I learn something just about every time I talk to one), I skipped that and instead we had a great Q&A where I pointed them to some sources for their own historical research and shared some of my finds.

It was fun because it was a chance to talk about the behind-the-scenes aspects of my job (and my research/writing) that I don’t usually get to.

I also brought a few copies of the new book and sold (and signed) them all, making this my first book signing event for Roll the Bones (Casino Edition)

All of which made me think I should do this more often. If you’ve got a group in Southern Nevada and are looking for a speaker, I’d be happy to give a brief talk about what I do and what I’ve written. It’d be nice if I could bring a few books to sell as well.

And if you’re coming to town for a convention or are an event planned, I also do convention speaking. I’ve got two main talks that I give.

The first is Seven Things You Should Know About Casinos, which explains some of the tricks of the casino trade to novice audiences and is a perfect fit for the first day’s lunch speaker. It’s humorous, and people get a good overview of the odds of different games, casino history, the mob, counting cards, and casino etiquette. 

The second is How Bugsy Blew It: Leadership Lessons from a Las Vegas Legend. This one is a good fit as a management/leadership/motivational talk. I share the real story of how Bugsy Siegel took control over the Flamingo project and nearly ran it into the ground before getting murdered by an unknown assailant in 1947, but with a hook: what can leaders learn from his mistakes? It’s a different spin on the usual motivational talk, but one that has some good lessons for everyone.

If you’re interested in having me speak to your group, whether it’s a social group of Las Vegas locals or a visiting convention group, contact me