Our Love Affaire with Las Vegas.
Hawaii is one of only two states that permits no form of legalized gambling. None whatsoever. It has been rumored for years that one reason for that is heavy lobbying of Hawaii legislators by gambling interests in Las Vegas.
The fact is, there are a lot of local folks here who really love to gamble. For years—going all the way back to the 60s when I first got here—they go to Las Vegas. Many of these folks are serious gamblers, mind you. So serious that for years the hotels in Las Vegas would sponsor junkets that would include chartered flights and comped rooms.
Back in the 1970s, I got a small taste of life at that level. At the time, I was a member of the Honolulu mayor’s cabinet and was planning to attend a conference being held in Las Vegas.
I happened to mention it to one of the mayor’s behind-the-scenes supporters who was known to be a serious gambler. It wasn’t, but let’s say his name was Kazu. He asked which hotel I was in and when I said “The Sands”, Kazu said I should find the pit boss at the baccarat table and tell him Kazu said hello.
I did as directed. The guy’s name was Vince and he was a 200-plus pounder in a tuxedo, had no neck, and was stone-faced. I introduced myself and said “Kazu says hello”. Vince stared at me for several seconds, then said, in a hoarse whisper, “What’s your room number, Jimmy?” I told him and he said, “You need anything, you come see me, OK?” It sounded like a threat.
I had meetings to attend and, all in all, it was a pretty tame couple of days. I was on a miserly city expense account and didn’t see any shows and took all my meals in the hotel coffee shop.
Two days later I went to check out and everything had been comped—my room, a few incidentals, one room service, and all my meals.
Ah, the old days! When I was going to UNR (Reno), we knew where to show a local DL and get a free roll of nickels- great for nickel beer night. And cashing a paycheck at the Cal-Neva got you drink tokes which you could accumulate. Not to mention the 88 cent breakfasts etc… Alas, long, long gone are those days.