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Casinos And $5,000 Chips Part 2

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Gambling Today reported in their January 25, 1999 issue that so far five people have filed complaints about Binion's chip-cashing policies with the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Former casino owner Bob Stupak is among the complainants. Stupak was turned away by the casino's cashiers, so next time he showed up flanked by an impressive entourage of supporters and media in order to put the casino on the spot, and force them to pay up. The result? He was turned away again! An anti-gambling activist to whom Stupak had given one of his chocolate chips also was unable to redeem it for cash.

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I read in the Summer 1998 issue of The Intelligent Gambler of yet another customer run-in with a casino over the cashing of chips, and again the amount involved was $5,000.

Abdul Jalib, a resident of Las Vegas and a "professional gambler," writes about a friend of his who was playing blackjack at the MGM Grand casino for several days, losing steadily. At last his luck turned, and slowly but surely he hacked away so that finally he was even. At the cashier's cage he was asked where he won the money, and he explained that he won it little by little at tables all across the casino. The MGM Grand is a large place, with lots of blackjack tables, making his story entirely plausible —even common.

Incredibly, the cashier refused to cash his $5,000 in chips, and after a hassle she begrudgingly agreed to cash $2,500's worth. When he took the other $2,500 in chips to another cashier, the first cashier rushed over, screaming, "Don't cash those chips!" Only after the player went to see the casino manager and bitterly complained was he finally able to redeem the rest of his chips. Needless to say, he informed the manager in no uncertain terms that he would never ever again patronize the MGM Grand.

If it should happen to me, neither would I. And neither should you. If any casino becomes a hassle, avoid it and gamble elsewhere. They number a scant few hundred, but they are the real meat-and-potatoes of big Casino Action. The gamblers I'm talking about make the fabled Nick the Greek look like a penny-ante player.

The majority of them are Asians who fly in on chartered jets with a retinue of bodyguards, mistresses, cooks, and interpreters. Whole baccarat pits are reserved just for them and are often specially redecorated to suit the tastes of these Very Special Players.

Casinos will go to extraordinary lengths to attract them. They wager in huge sums, and their limits at the tables can reach mind-boggling numbers. They are referred to in casino inner-circles as "whales."

Akio Kashiwagi was a whale. Baccarat was his game. According to a feature story in The National Enquirer, this High Roller literally broke the bank when he raked in $22 million from an Australian casino, and then followed up by winning another $12.2 million from one of Donald Trump's casinos. Trump successfully lured him into returning, and his casino was able to win back $10 million of it. But that didn't faze this Japanese jetter—he still had $24 million left in winnings when the smoke cleared.

Kashiwagi often brought $10 million as seed money, gambling for as long as fourteen hours a day. He took his gambling seriously, turning a large part of his mansion in Japan into a miniature casino, complete with baccarat table, dealer—even a cocktail waitress! When at home, he practiced ten-hours-a-day just "to keep in shape."

Kashiwagi was a wheeler-dealer in Japanese real estate, operating on the fringe of legitimacy. Finally his luck ran out, not at the tables but with his real estate dealings. When his house of cards collapsed, Kashiwagi committed suicide.

Kerry Packer, Australia's wealthiest man, is another whale who gambles for gigantic sums. He stuck it to Steve Wynn when he won a hefty six million bucks from his prize casino, the Mirage. His coup degrace occurred in 1996 when, in less then two hours, he beat the Las Vegas MGM Grand for almost $24 million. This adventurous Aussie—a casino owner himself in his native Australia—was betting as much as a quarter-of-a-million dollars a hand!

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