Lesniak survives primary vote; another blackjack player takes Tropicana for $5.3m

TAGs: Atlantic City, Blackjack, chris christie, New Jersey Online Gambling, tropicana

lesniak christie new jersey

Lesniak defeats Christie's handpicked electoral assassin

Sen. Ray Lesniak, New Jersey’s biggest champion of online gaming and sports betting, survived a heated primary fight on Tuesday. Lesniak, who has held elected office in the Garden State since 1978, faced a challenge in his Union County riding by school administrator Jerome Dunn. Lesniak wasn’t exactly magnanimous in victory, saying “there won’t be any words of conciliation” with Dunn, whom he views as Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s “ace in the hole. [Christie] thought he could pick off a Democrat by having a Republican run as a Democrat.” Christie and Lesniak have butted heads on a number of issues, including when Christie vetoed the Lesniak-spearheaded move to make New Jersey the first state to enact online gambling legislation. No, this squabble doesn’t sound personal in the least.

Another of Christie’s handpicked men had much better luck on Monday. Christie’s nomination of Bob Mulcahy to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority was approved by a state Senate committee. Mulcahy was part of the team that delivered recommendations on how to revitalize Atlantic City’s decaying fortunes, such as the creation of AC’s Tourism District. Mulcahy, who must now be approved by a full Senate vote, says he is “under no illusions about the difficulty of the assignment.”

Making AC’s revitalization even more difficult is the amount of gamblers taking the casinos for millions at a time. Last month we learned of Don (not the actor) Johnson taking three AC gambling joints for $15m in the past six months. Some $5.8m of that haul came from the Tropicana, which has just admitted being taken for another $5.3m last week by another talented/fortunate blackjack player. This whale’s identity has not been made public, but he made a lot of fans among the dealers by leaving a $150k tip.

tropicana-blackjack-millionsThe Tropicana’s new emphasis on rolling out the welcome mat for blackjack’s high-rollers ($100k a hand) is coming under fire from many observers, but president/CEO Tony Rodio told the Associated Press that risk is the name of the game. “That’s just how it goes sometimes; if you bet more, you can win more. We have a strategy of offering the most aggressive and highest table games limits [in AC] and we’re not going to change that. If someone wants to take the shot, we’ll take the action.” Rodio claims that Carl Icahn, who rescued the Tropicana from bankruptcy last March, is okay with the strategy.

Presumably Icahn also has no bone to pick with the Tropicana’s plans to create a “party pit” in which female blackjack and roulette dealers “with great personalities that look nice” will conduct business clad in bustiers and stockings. The pit/tit plan, set to launch on the July 4th holiday weekend, is part of an obvious ‘sexy time’ trend in AC. The Resorts Casino Hotel is facing wrongful termination lawsuits filed by female employees whose ‘great personalities’ didn’t look nice enough in the casino’s new sexy Roaring 20’s flapper outfits. We say AC’s woes are serious enough that half-measures won’t cut it. We suggest replacing the shrimp buffet with a full-on 24/7 Caligula-worthy orgy and those busloads of Pennsylvania seniors will come roaring back, we guarantee it. We bet they’ll even bring their own dental dams.


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