Another Example of Nevada’s Double Standard
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
December 30, 2002
In May 1997, The late Ted Binion lost his Nevada gaming license for, among
other things, the "associations" he had with several ex-cons.
NRS (Nevada Revised Statute) 463.170 - Qualifications for license, finding of
suitability or approval states: "The commission (must be) satisfied that the
applicant is: (a) A person of good character, honesty and integrity; (b) A
person whose prior activities, criminal record, if any, reputation, habits
and associations do not pose a threat to the public interest of this state or
to the effective regulation and control of gaming...."
Meanwhile, Steve Wynn, in 1997, while testifying in the WYNN v. BARRICADE
BOOKS libel trial, admitted that he was logged-in visiting Michael Milken at
the Nellis Federal Prison on 57 occasions during the early 1990s.
Like Binion and Wynn, I also have friends who paid their debts to society,
therefore I can fully understand Binion's compassion for his friend Herb
Blitzstein, and Wynn's compassion for his friend Mike Milken, but I am also
not a privileged license holder in this state and I understand that
exceptions to the rule should not be made for one person over another who may
be less influential.
Why is privileged license holder Wynn allowed to continue his "associations"
with a felon such as "Junk Bond King" Mike Milken? What is the difference
between ex-felon Milken and ex-felon Herbie Blitzstein who, as a member of
Nevada's Black Book, jeopardized Binion's Nevada gaming license?
Shortly after Milken was released from prison, in 1997, Wynn and former
Nevada Governor Bob Miller attended a well-publicized 4th of July dinner
party at Milken's Lake Tahoe estate. In the meantime, Binion and Blitzstein
were seen hanging out together at Club Paradise.
Following the 1997, 4th of July party, why wasn't Wynn brought before the
Nevada Gaming Commission for questioning about his "associations," as was
Binion that same year?
Remember the scene in the movie Casino when actor Robert Di Nero's character
faced the Nevada Gaming Commission for a similar alleged offense? The actual
event involving Frank Rosenthal was in the 1970s, however, in the 1990s, the
rules had obviously changed when it came to Binion and Wynn, Blitzstein and
There are many people that do no deserve to live the rest of their lives
under the title of "ex-con," or "felon," but NRS 463.170 does not
differentiate between "good" and "bad" ex-cons or felons. Taking time off to
sit in prison can, and often does, have a reforming effect on some. Most
likely, Mike Milken and Herbie Blitzstein may have qualified as being
"reformed" by their prison stays. People who know Milken after his release
are quick to praise him for his philanthropic efforts, and a lot of people
have even called the late Herb Blitzstein a friend and good guy. I guess
quality is in the eye of the beholder.
Nonetheless, Mike Milken is still an ex-con, and the past history of Nevada
gaming regulation dictates that a license holder not associate with such a
person - whether or not he qualifies for sainthood.
Remember Frank Sinatra's skirmish with Nevada authorities over his partial
ownership of the Cal-Neva Lodge at Lake Tahoe? Because of his alleged ties to
Sam Giancana, Sinatra surrendered his Nevada gaming license in 1963 when
there was no double standard. Now, it's obviously quite different.
Binion - in 1996, reluctantly acknowledged being in Blitzstein's presence
more than two-dozen times within the previous year. In January 1997, the late
Ted Binion told Nevada gaming authorities that he had tried to distance
himself from Blitzstein since landing in trouble with the Control Board.
"I've seen him once in seven months," Binion said. "I was just avoiding him."
However, that same year, Wynn did absolutely nothing to avoid Milken, in fact
he embraced him. Then, with Governor Miller and other politicians in tow,
Wynn cajoled with the saintly ex-con and left the dinner party untainted.
Most Governors would shy away from associating with an ex-convict, but now
its obvious that anything goes in Nevada - for some privileged people.
Need I say more to prove there is a double standard in our state?
The fact that NRS 463.170 is so ambiguous that it never mentions the word
"ex-con" or "felon" begs the question as to why such people are singled out
in the first place? However, when a politically incorrect gaming license
holder dares to be seen with a person who has spent time in prison as was the
case with Ted Binion and Herb Blitzstein, watch the Nevada gaming authorities
Even more amazing is the fact that this writer is the first and only scribe
in this state to ever dare question the enforcement procedures of our state
gaming regulators in regard to their very dissimilar treatment of Binion and
Should Nevada's gambling laws and their alleged good enforcement history
continue to be presumptuously used by the American Gaming Association as
their role model to encourage casino competition to Nevada in other states?
Not as long as some "associations" are condoned while others are condemned so
Or, should the word "associations" be omitted from the gaming law altogether?
Only Steve Wynn is left to answer that question.
Copyright © Steve Miller
email Steve Miller at: Stevemiller4lv@aol.com