Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ace Rothstein Loses His Last Bet

A legendary gambler/mafioso cashes in.

Frank Rosenthal, bookmaker, casino executive and television talk-show host, was born on June 12, 1929. He died on October 13, 2008, aged 79.

At one time he was officially chief executive officer of the Stardust, the Fremont, the Hacienda and the Marina, and was, through his activities as a dubiously connected sports handicapper on a hitherto unimagined scale, regarded as the unexampled pioneer of sports gambling. One of his most remarkable feats.....was actually to operate a sports book from inside a casino, making the Stardust the world centre for sports gambling. Another innovation was the introduction of women blackjack dealers, a novelty which was at the time credited with doubling the casino’s income within the year.

Even after his disgrace his myth was given the imprimatur of a Martin Scorsese-directed film, Casino (1995), in which the character inspired by him (renamed for celluloid purposes Sam “Ace” Rothstein) was played by Robert DeNiro, and that of his glamorous screen wife by Sharon Stone.

I like the way that movie shows the basics of how a casino operates, or did then. The chain of supervision on the floor, the thought given to slot machine placement, the way high rollers were handled - it was all new to me when I first saw that movie, and I think it was new to many people who didn't realize how little is left to chance in a casino without actually rigging the games.

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