Young Turks at Lady Luck; Pokergeddon clips bill’s wings

By David McKee ~ May 24th, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

Seth Schorr, son of Wynn Resorts COO Marc Schorr, has charged with the responsibility of bringing the Lady Luck Casino Hotel back from the dead. Schorr fils got started in the industry early (age 12, to be precise), spending his summer vacation helping to paint the Golden Nugget Laughlin‘s garage. He’s been working his way up the ladder in the 26 years since and has spent the last three years turning around the ill-starred Speedway Casino, now known as the Lucky Club (and occasionally looking in on Strip nightclubs). One of his co-investors in that venture was then-Wynn Las Vegas President Andrew Pascal, who left following the most recent Wynn marital breakup, possibly exiled from Wynncore in favor of cheeseparing successor Marilyn Winn Winn-Spiegel Spiegel. Or maybe Elaine Wynn won custody of nephew Pascal in the divorce.

Schorr was prescient about the failure of the “hotel-condo” concept and is a DIY filmmaker, splicing together Lucky Club promo spots. A portfolio of operations that includes grind joints like the Silver Nugget Casino and Opera House Saloon & Casino may make Fifth Street Gaming an odd fit for the Lady Luck but Schorr’s experience at Wynn Resorts, including oversight of international marketing, offsets the incongruity.

Partner Jeffrey Fine is the one who brought the two North Las Vegas casinos into the fold. He’s also behind the great success of the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf franchise in the valley (places where you can always find Desert Companion, which occasionally features the prose of Yr. Humble Blogger and — this month — my wife). An arena project on the neglected West Side didn’t go anywhere, though. Will Fine try to revive the luckless Lady using his low prices/customer service formula or draw on Schorr’s background to target a more upscale clientele? After all, they’re not simply entrusted with running the casino but “lead[ing] development”of the entire property.

The real gamble appears to be owner CIM Group and Downtown Resorts‘ decision to outsource the casino revenue. Unless all three companies obtain gaming licenses, Fifth Street stands to make its money on the front end of the deal, leaving CIM and DTR to recoup their investment from whatever’s left of the hotel and F&B revenue. (If the contract follows standard practice, Fifth Street will participate in all revenue streams.) Well played, Fifth Street. I give these young Turks far better odds of succeeding than the recent swarm of neophytes who think that just because they did well in an unrelated field they’re a shoo-in to become the next Steve Wynn.

They love the nightlife. If you’re not mesmerized by the splash photo of Kim Kardashian, click on over to the fourth photo of this gallery to see LVA Publisher Anthony Curtis and our Web tsarina, Jessica Roe, hanging out on Fremont East. The mini-strip of vintage neon and hip watering holes has become the symbol of the reinvention of Downtown as the place for Las Vegans to be … the anti-Strip, as it were.

So take these broken wings … Remember how the Nevada Legislature was all hot and eager to make the Silver State the new Vatican City of Internet gambling, taking bets across state and international lines? A not-so-funny thing happened on the way to the floor of the Lege: Pokergeddon. The bill, pet project of round-heeled Assm. William Horne (D-PokerStars), goes up for a vote in a sensible form. It now merely instructs the Nevada Gaming Commission to erect regulatory standards and licensing procedures in the event that Uncle Sam legalizes online gambling.

(Interesting Footnote Dept.: Seth Schorr’s resumé shows that he was involved with an[other] abortive Steve Wynn Internet-gaming venture, called World Wide Wynn. Small town, isn’t it?)

There’ll be frost warnings in Hell before that happens but the chastened version of Horne’s bill ought to be approved. In its original form, it wouldn’t have survived a court challenge (and probably not a Gov. Brian Sandoval [R] veto either). As watered down, it at least gets Nevada regulators actively involved in participating — or at least being ready to — in the online world, an issue that has mostly been a theoretical consideration until now. If state government wanted to beard the federal lion in its den, it could have amended the bill to permit intrastate ‘Net betting only. That would have sidestepped the Federal Wire Act but would certainly have roused the ire of Nevada-based casinos, who would see their besieged revenue base further cannibalized.

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