A Nevada casino once owned by legend Frank Sinatra and patronised by Hollywood stars and mobsters has closed due to plunging gambling rates and competition from the Vegas strip.
Media Man and Gambling911 investigate, as we mix it up with Hollywooders, journos, academics and mobsters...
Associations with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Junior has not been enough to save the Cal Neva Lodge Casino from the distressed US land based casino industry.
The casino, situated on Lake Tahoe near the California border, last year saw its revenues fall to approximately 50% of what they enjoyed in 1992 allowing for inflation, tipped Mr William Eadington, director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada.
Other local casinos continue to close or have downsized, unable to compete with Las Vegas, not in good shape itself – and the growing number of gambling resorts on Native American Indian reservations.
"The realities are when you have that kind of decline the weakest operators typically get pushed out," advised Mr Eadington. "The older, tired casinos and the Cal Neva is a great example, don't have much to offer for gaming."
Understood to be America's oldest licensed casino, the Cal Neva opened for business in 1926. The Cal Veva enjoyed its peak in the early 1960s when it was bought by Sinatra, reportedly in partnership with Sam Giancana, a Chicago mobster.
Adding a 35-seat celebrity showroom and rooftop helicopter pad, Samy and Frank ensured film stars, singers and Mafiosi enjoyed its blackjack games and roulette tables.
A network of underground tunnels, built to smuggle alcohol during Prohibition, allowed the VIP guests to move around the establishment without being seen by the general public.
Monroe actually spent the last weekend of her colourful life at The Cal in 1962 as a guest of the infamous 'Rat Pack' actor Peter Lawford and his wife.
Various stories circulate as to why the blond goddess was there. One story goes on to say she discussed making a film with Dean Martin and to patch things up with her second husband, baseball icon Joe DiMaggio, yet another Cal Neva regular. The other side of the story we learn is that a 1999 biography claimed Monroe was brought there to be threatened not to reveal her Mafia links, drugged in her cabin and photographed in compromising positions! Another Cal Neva rumour claims she used the resort for a tryst with John F Kennedy.
Staff concede the resort has traded off its colourful history but Guy Rocha, a former Nevada state archivist, said it would not register with younger gamblers. The hotel and restaurant remain open, but the tables, slots and other gambling activity are history.
"The Cal Neva doesn't capture people's imagination the way it once did," he said.
The Sinatra name is however alive and strong on the internet. Media Man has created an online tribute (with the help of Wikipedia) which is found here
http://www.mediamanint.com/profiles/sinatra.html and an authentic Sinatra online slot game, developed by 'The Games Studio' of PartyGaming fame is also showcased. Frank Sinatra Enterprises came to business terms with PartyGaming last year and the slot game has proven to be one of the most popular of all time, even competing with the legendary Cleopatra, developed by IGT (International Gaming Technology) and WagerWorks. Gangster and mob related games are some of the most popular found anywhere in the world. 'The Godfather' franchise also has an online slot game and rumours are circulating that Australia's late Kerry Packer (code named "The Goanna" in The Costigan Commission report) may also get the same treatment.
PartyGaming is also currently rumoured to be in discussions with the Canadian Poker Tour aka HeadsUp Entertainment, as well as enjoying M&A talk with Bwin and others. This past week PartyGaming inked a b2b multi year deal with Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU). Party will provide its poker product to its horse racing website. Party continues its global strategy with France, South America, India, the U.S and Australia in its sights.
Media Man remains optimistic about America's igaming industry growth, having created http://www.americangamingnews.com and http://www.hollywoodslotgames.com
A Media Man insider was overheard, "If only the U.S igaming market would open up sooner rather than later. We could kick some major goals under Gambling911 and the Sly Stallone - Arnie connection guidance. I guess we will have to stick mainly to poker and sports betting in the U.S sector for now, but when things change those Gambling911 guys, PartyGaming and the Media Man crew might just take over Vegas and Atlantic City... we could back door it in via Canada and North America with those Canadian Poker tournament guys. It will be just like the good old days, and you know history repeats my friend".
*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911
*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. The firm covers approximately a dozen business vertical markets including gaming and igaming
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