Let’s make one thing perfectly clear.
Steve Wynn was in favor of online gambling long before he opposed it. Big time. As in so enthusiastically in favor of online gambling (and poker specifically) that he once signed up for a strategic business partnership with PokerStars.com. You remember PokerStars, don’t you? The world’s largest online poker site based over on the Isle of Man?
Now it appears Wynn has changed his mind. Again.
One of our favorite restaurants has opened its second Las Vegas location. Tonight was the grand opening.
Fleming’s Steakhouse, of Summerlin fame, opened up location number two on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, in Town Square.
We were among the first diners to arrive this evening and were the first to pay, which I suppose officially makes us Customer Number 1.
Photo by Ulvis Alberts (2002 WSOP)
Note: This is the final segment in my trilogy on the closing of Binion’s Horseshoe, which happened ten years ago last week (January 9th, to be exact). Read PART 1 here and PART 2 here.
I needed a band.
Not just any band, but a country-western band. And I didn’t know shit about country music. Didn’t know where to go. Didn’t know where to turn.
Just three days removed from the start of the 2003 National Finals Rodeo and 85,000 cowboys trucking into town, the transformation of Binion’s Horseshoe was nearly complete. Slot machines and gaming tables had been wheeled out. A dance floor the size of a full-length basketball court was in place. A brightly-lit elevated stage had been especially constructed for the occasion and made the Horseshoe suddenly appear as inviting as any real nightclub in the city with live music. Sixty-two cocktail tables were positioned around the dance floor’s perimeter. Candles were even found in the warehouse and were placed upon the tabletops, so smokers could light up easily (this was before many casinos instituted non-smoking policies). Giant metal tubs were set up about to be stacked with ice-cold longnecks. We smoked enough bar-be-cue to feed half of Las Vegas. The party was about to begin.
Only, we needed a band.
Drinking with Gavin Smith last night
Gavin Smith and I go back many, many years. More cocktails, laughs, and hangovers than I care to remember. Let’s just say I knew Gavin before he became infamous.
Last night, we added to another chapter to the encyclopedia of stories you wouldn’t believe.
Gavin and I agreed to meet at a locals hangout on Fort Apache, on the west side of town. By the time I arrived, right on time mind you, Gavin already had an empty glass parked in front of him.
I had put the over/under on our session at 90 minutes. That’s what I told Marieta, anyway. Main reason was — I had plenty of things to do that night and I wasn’t going to let myself get carried away inside a bar with Gavin.
Four hours later, we were still hunched over our bar stools drinking and laughing. Gavin can be such a terrible influence.
Today is January 9th, 2014.
Ten years ago today, a Las Vegas landmark was forcibly shut down.
Binion’s Horseshoe, the crumbling ruin of a former empire and the final vestige of the Old West that had once transformed dusty Las Vegas into a neon-lit magnet of vice, shuddered its windows and padlocked its doors. The official order to close came by hand when a posse of armed U.S. Marshals barged in the front entrance, went straight to the casino cage, and presented a legal notice to confiscate all the cash inside. Gaming operations were to cease immediately.
Federal marshals and agents from the Nevada Gaming Board ended up as the Horseshoe’s last guests. It was a sad final chapter of what had been a ruinous downfall, a stunning tumble from being widely beloved as a true gambler’s paradise and the poker pinnacle of the world, topped by the crown jewel of hospitality. And this was all about to disappear. Forever.
I was there when it ended. When everything came crashing down. When many lives were wrecked temporarily, if not ruined for a long time. When tears were shed. When there was no time to say goodbyes.
The rise of Binion’s Horseshoe has been well-documented. Today, I’ll like to share some stories about the downfall.