Sports Book Scene June 20th 2000

Corporate Las Vegas Hits New Low In Twin Actions of Most Dubious Merit

If there is a phrase with demonic connotations scarier than “Corporate America”, we have yet to hear it.

In the minds of many, Microsoft and Bill Gates represent the epitome of corporate success.  To others, they reflect the hollow values of American business, and the nadir of corporate culture.

We raise this little conundrum because Corporate Las Vegas just hit a low-life parlay.  And someone should go on record and nail the bastards.

The corporation in question is Park Place Entertainment, parent of Hilton Hotels.  A monolithic conglomeration of bean counters, efficiency experts and ribbon clerks, PPE lurches around this desert town like a hyperactive Pac Man on steroids.

Every time its bottomless maw is opened, another property is gulped down and hurtled toward oblivion and eternal cost accountability.

Hail the mighty gaming empire, at least it takes care of its own … or does it?  By the time Hilton completed its acquisition of Caesars Palace, many CP vets had abandoned ship.  One of the top executives, however – Vince M., the assistant VP who ran race and sports – decided to stick around.

A couple of decades of stellar service at CP, including overseeing a big-time race and sports betting emporium, seemingly should have been enough to ensure continuing employment at an aggressive, growth-oriented company.

Did we mention that Vince was as astute and skilled an executive as you will find in running his multifaceted show at Caesars?  Always the loyal corporate soldier, he’d never acknowledge the zits on the company’s face.  Invariably, he’d explain with Orwellian logic why a negative actually had positive ramifications.

When Vince spoke to the press, his sentences were perfectly structured PR statements, the kind company flacks get paid big bucks to write.  He was frequently and copiously quoted in the local press.

Always a willing source of info, Vince instinctively protected the company with a deftness, which apparently was unappreciated.

That’s right.  A little while ago, Vince was relieved of his duties in casino marketing, where he had been moved after the coup by Hilton.

Being edged out of the race and sports book position was simply SOP.  That’s what corporations do.  But Vince looked forward to new challenges.

Then one day, when there were no longer any high level CP carryovers to speak for him and no one in Hilton stepped up on his behalf, Vince became just another corporate casualty.  Presumably he got a golden parachute.

For a variety of reasons, we weren’t going to write about this, not the least of which was respect for Vince’s privacy.  But hey, this is Las Vegas, nothing is private.

What prompted this rant was the latest corporate outrage perpetrated by Hilton.  It has shut down the sports book’s telephone betting operation.

Reportedly, this occurred several days ago.  Wednesday morning, we asked Hilton’s PR department for the actual shutdown date, and a comment as to why the action was deemed necessary.  We were told they were awaiting word from the sports book.

It was done very quietly.  No fanfare.  We heard about it from several bettors who snarled that the book had kicked out all the sharps a few years ago, but apparently is now afraid to take action even from its squares.

Calling the demise of phone betting at Hilton an outrage is an overstatement.  Certainly few if any serious bettors are discombobulated by the move.

But symbolically it reveals chapter, book and verse, just what the robots in the executive men’s room at Park Place Entertainment are thinking.

The high mucky mucks at this corporation are notable for their aspirations of being the biggest gaming company in the world.  Never a mention about being the best.

These boys are well versed in throwing around clichés, which rationalize their feral behavior, like “enhancing shareholder value”.  Right!

And so, after casually and callously dispensing with a human resource and customer amenity, this soulless mass of bricks, mortar and the ubiquitous bottom line continues to oppressively munch its way through the gaming industry.

There are decent individuals working at Hilton, and we know some of them.  Rest assured, they are not the targets of this column.  We are not aiming at flesh and blood. | June 20th, 2000

– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
A long time sports betting columnist, Buzz Daly

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