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Howard Stutz

Former Mirage Host Dies

1 December 2004

LAS VEGAS -- Charlie Meyerson, the one-time Mirage "superhost" whose personal and professional relationship with casino developer Steve Wynn spanned more than four decades, died Monday at his home in Boca Raton, Fla., after a long battle with cancer.

Meyerson, who would have turned 89 on Dec. 13, was a New York City bookmaker in the 1950s and early 1960s when he befriended a young Wynn. He went to work for Wynn in 1980 as the chief junket representative in New York City for the Golden Nugget Atlantic City.

Eventually, he moved west when Wynn sold his New Jersey resort to build The Mirage. Meyerson earned $400,000 a year as a casino host.

Meyerson was also in the center of a high-profile feud in the early 1990s between Wynn and then-Clark County Sheriff John Moran, which caused the developer to file a civil rights lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department for its investigation of Meyerson. The suit was eventually dropped, and Wynn said Tuesday the matter stemmed from a personal vendetta with a police officer and had nothing to do with Meyerson.

"Charlie Meyerson lived a full and wonderful life, and he was one of the toughest guys I've ever known," Wynn said. "He was 79, 80 years old and he'd run circles around the other guys. When the cancer became pervasive, he said: `That's it, no treatment.' We said our good-byes six or eight weeks ago. I loved him for more than 40 years."

Wynn said a private burial would be held today in Farmingdale, N.Y., with Meyerson's immediate family, Wynn and his wife, Elaine, and Wynn Resorts Chief Operating Officer Marc Schorr and his wife, Jane.

No local services are planned.

Meyerson is survived by his wife of 40 years, Pam, eight children, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Wynn plans to honor Meyerson by naming the delicatessen at the new $2.8 billion Wynn Las Vegas after his longtime friend. His only regret is that Meyerson won't be at the resort's planned opening in April.

Meyerson had contacts throughout many fields. While Meyerson worked for the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, Wynn said, his customers were responsible for "30 percent of our business. Charlie was truly the pied piper of Atlantic City."

Wynn said Meyerson was "upfront" with Atlantic City regulators about his days as a bookmaker; but he became known in Las Vegas when he was at the center of the dispute between Wynn and Moran, who at the time was considered one of the most powerful elected officials in Nevada.

In July 1991, Meyerson gave free rooms and food and beverages to a group of five men for a four-night stay at The Mirage. But as the group was leaving at McCarran International Airport, two were arrested by police for failing to register as felons. Police alleged one of the gamblers was a member of the Genovese crime family in New York. The incident was caught on tape by a television news crew.

Metro revoked Meyerson's work card, claiming he catered to organized crime figures, but it was restored in 1992. A year later, state gaming regulators granted Meyerson a license as a key employee, ending the dispute. Wynn dropped the lawsuit after Moran issued a statement absolving Meyerson of any wrongdoing.

"This wasn't about Charlie or Sheriff Moran. It was all about me and a Metro cop who didn't like me," Wynn said. "In the end, Charlie won out."

Wynn met Meyerson following Wynn's father's death in 1963. Meyerson was Wynn's father's bookie, and Wynn went to pay off his father's $5,000 gambling debt.

"He just laughed and told me that a gambler's debts die with him," Wynn said. "That's where our relationship began."