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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Nevada gaming board OKs Lucky's

10 July 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Race and sports book operator Brandywine Bookmaking received initial regulatory approval Wednesday for its first Las Vegas operation.

The company, which opened locations last week in Reno and Elko, plans to take over operations of the Plaza's race and sports book on Aug. 1 if the Nevada Gaming Commission grants approval July 24.

The Gaming Control Board took less than 10 minutes to recommend Brandywine, which operates under the name Lucky's Race and Sports Book, to handle the Plaza. Last month, gaming regulators licensed the company, which is operated by Joe Asher, a one-time executive with mobile gaming pioneer Cantor G&W.

Asher, the president and chief executive officer of Brandywine, said the Plaza's 7,600-square-foot race and sports book will undergo renovations that will include new televisions, lighting, seating, wagering stations and carpeting.

"Our understanding is that the Plaza is the oldest continuously operating race and sports book in downtown Las Vegas," Asher said.

Brandywine operates two race and sports books in Elko and the race and sports book inside Reno's Grand Sierra. The company is asking gaming authorities in August to approve its operation of the Casino Fandango race and sports in Carson City.

Asher said the Plaza's 12 ticket writers will become employees of Brandywine if the commission approves the transaction.

Brandywine competes with two other established independent race and sports book operators, Leroys and Cal Neva. Asher brought in veteran Nevada race and sports book operator Jimmy Vaccaro and Northern Nevada race and sports book executive Tony DiTommaso to oversee the bookmaking and operations side of the business.

Asher told gaming regulators that Lucky's, in addition to baseball betting, accepted wagers on the Wimbledon tennis tournament, NASCAR and the Tour de France bicycle race during its first week.

Also Wednesday, gaming regulators granted slot machine route operator United Coin Machine initial approval to operate its fifth temporary, one-day casino this year. The company will operate 16 slot machines for eight hours at the site of the now-closed Queen of Hearts on East Lewis Avenue, between Main and First streets.

The temporary casinos, which make little if any gaming revenues, allow a location to retain its gaming rights for two years.

United Coin Vice President Rob Woodson said the Queen of Hearts one-day casino would be open Aug. 13, if the gaming commission and the city of Las Vegas approve the site.

This year United Coin has operated temporary casinos on the site of the former Showboat on Boulder Highway, the since-demolished Beach nightclub across from the Las Vegas Convention Center, the former Foxy's Firehouse on the northeast corner of the Strip and Sahara Avenue, and last month at the site of the burned-out Moulin Rouge on Bonanza Road.

"Planning an extensive marketing campaign (for the Queen of Hearts)?" board member Mark Clayton asked Woodson.

"You would be wrong about that," Woodson said.