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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the Inside
Earley has combined two books in one. In the first, as a cultural anthropologist, he examines the creation and evolution of what has become one of the world's most fascinating communities. In the second, as a journalist, he focuses on The Luxor to which he was given almost complete access. We are thus provided with an abundance of historical information which creates a...
Published on January 30, 2000 by Robert Morris

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good insights
Las Vegas and the gaming industry have caused more trees to be needlessly sacrificed than any topic in popular culture with the possible exception of professional wrestling. This is not to say that there is nothing of interest to say about either subject; on the contrary, both are thriving industries whose practices and appeal tell the sensitive observer a great deal...
Published on August 4, 2006 by Dave Schwartz


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On the Inside, January 30, 2000
Earley has combined two books in one. In the first, as a cultural anthropologist, he examines the creation and evolution of what has become one of the world's most fascinating communities. In the second, as a journalist, he focuses on The Luxor to which he was given almost complete access. We are thus provided with an abundance of historical information which creates a frame-of-reference within which to examine virtually every component of a single casino. In so saying, I do NOT in any way want to suggest that Super Casino is in any sense dry, dull, etc. On the contrary, it is a page-turner. There are so many colorful "characters" ("players"?) portrayed, so many spell-binding plots and subplots, so many memorable moments. We tag along with Earley as he observes and interacts with a veritable "feast" of humanity and inhumanity. They're all here. Pioneers. Con artists. Celebrity entertainers. Pinstriped Samurai. Mobsters. Visionaries. Pimps and prostitutes. Bottom feeders. Victims. Victimizers. Perhaps not since ancient Rome was most glorious and most decadent has there been another community on this planet in which the best and worst qualities of the human race have been more in evidence than within the gaming segment of Las Vegas.
Those who read this book may incorrectly conclude that the Strip and Las Vegas are the same. They are not. It has been my great privilege and pleasure to explore the metropolitan area and, in terms of its (non-casino) business climate and quality of life, I would rate it very highly. Indeed, superior to almost all other metropolitan areas. But that is not the subject of Earley's book.
Who will most enjoy reading it? My guess is that they would include those who have already experienced Las Vegas and perhaps have asked "How did all this happen? What really occurs behind the scene? What is the inside story on all the changes which have occurred?" Also those who have never been to Las Vegas but have seen the movies (eg Ocean's Eleven and Casino), have heard about the antics of celebrities (eg Howard Hughes, Elvis, Sinatra and his Rat Pack, Liberace, Wayne Newton), have read about the extravagances (Steve Wynn's art collection), and ask "How much of this is true? Is it really like that?"
This is a "great read."
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books on "Inside" Las Vegas, January 17, 2000
By A Customer
Fabulous book on the inner workings of the casino industry. The first half of the book is a short history of the city, detailing the exploits of such Vegas characters as Jay Sarno, Howard Hughes, and of course, Bugsy Siegel.
The second half focuses strictly on Luxor. The author was granted complete access to meetings and was able to interview anyone he wished. He talked with everyone from management to dealers to cab drivers to prostitutes.
If you want to read about the inner workings of a casino and how decisions are made, this is the book to read. Very entertaining from cover to cover.
There has been a little criticism on why this book focuses on Circus Circus and not Steve Wynn and his Mirage Resorts. Wynn has been a bit "gun shy" in dealing with the press since the litigation over his biography a couple of years ago.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT HISTORY AND TASTE OF THE "NEW" LAS VEGAS, January 13, 2000
By A Customer
This book is fascinating. It really lives up to that old saying about "hard to put down." I especially like the author's concise re-creation of the "early Vegas" and his explanation of how the "new" Strip was born. I'd never heard of Jay Sarno, the mastermind behind Caesars Palace and Circus Circus who apparently spent millions bedding showgirls and gambling on golf games. Nor had I ever read anything before about Bill Bennett and Bill Pennington, who each made some $650 million and really were responsible for making the Strip "kid friendly." I thought the author also really captured Steve Wynn, who developed the Mirage and Bellagio, and is always making headlines. He is more interesting and appaarently more colorful than the old mob guys who used to control Vegas. The second half of the book proved to be even more exciting than the first because it really takes you inside the Luxor casino. Without giving his opinion about gambling, the author shows through the lives of several characters the good, bad, and ugly of Las Vegas. I found the chapters about Shawna Gray who is a teenage prostitute especially touching and I liked how the book described both a gambling addict and also Philip Freidman who is a senior citizen who plays poker every day at the Luxor and considers it his second home. When Freidman's wife gets ill, it is his poker playing crowd who comes to his rescue. What a twist. Usually these books only tell one side. This one tells it all and does it fairly. It is the most balanced, inside account that I've ever read and I would enthusiastically endorse it to anyone who wants to know why Las Vegas is the most popular vacation spot in America.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting take on the new corporate structure in Las Vegas, December 27, 1999
By 
Harry Thomas (San Antonio, TX USA) - See all my reviews
As someone who has close relatives that live in Las Vegas - this was a useful translation of all the things they tell me about the new casinos and the politics behind them. The author concentrates just a bit too much on the Circus Circus (now Mandalay Resorts) story and not enough on the other super casino operators (Steve Wynn's Mirage Resorts, MGM Grand, Hilton, etc.), but that's to be expected, since Mandalay seems to be the only one who gave him full access.
The history of the shift from mobster-run to corporate-run casinos reads more like a book on Microsoft and Bill Gates rather than Bugsy Siegal, so if you're looking for "The Untouchables" type action, look elsewhere. Business types will find this book more to their particular tastes.
I haven't been in the Luxor lately, which is the focus of the second half of this book. However, I think I will go and see what they've done to fix it in the five years since I was there. It sounds as if they've done it right.
What is most fascinating for the non-business person about Super Casino is the interviews Earley has done with the background people; the dealers, the supervisors, the security people, the regular gamblers, and the underage prostitute.
There are no insights on how to beat Vegas - quite the opposite. Without picking sides in the debate, Earley shows how the odds are tilted in favor of the house. If you don't like the odds that Vegas offers, don't play.
What is missing is more information on how Vegas has tried to re-mold itself into a family destination. Earley covers it briefly, but doesn't really address it. For example, Circus Circus built a mini-amusement park within its casino area. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't find any reference to it (although he did mention MGM's theme park briefly). There is no mention of the Star Trek Experience, Wet & Wild, or lots of other things that parents can bring their children to. I'm not a spokesman for those places, but I do believe they deserved more than a brief mention or omission.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true taste of Las Vegas, January 28, 2000
By 
I just bought this book (1/15/2000) and found it infectious to the point that I could not put it down. I read it in 2 days. This is an exciting book all the way through. The book moves quickly but offers an extensive view of how Las Vegas is not only excessive on the level of customers, but also the owners of the resorts who have strived to "out-do" each other in a match of "one-upman-ship" . I still marvel at the thought of the humonguos amounts of money that were spent on some of the resorts. I was in Vegas in early January, the first time since 1987, and I was amazed at how the city had changed! This book explained why. The book also includes some individual chats with dealers, prostitutes, and security folks. Circus Circus gave the author Carte Blanche and a back stage pass to the daily happenings in their Casinos. The result is whirlwind of adventures and experiences worth the price of the book. Lastly, I liked this book so much, I am going back to Las Vegas to experience again the opulence with a new understanding and insight. Thanks Mr. Earley
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Out with the Wiseguys, In with Wall Street, November 7, 2000
Pete Earley is an excellent journalist whose books are quite readable and informative. With "Super Casino," he tracks the careers of men like Steve Wynn and Bill Bennett, whose vision helped transform the Las Vegas Strip from a haven for mobsters and high rollers to literally an adult Disneyland suitable for the whole family. While one might question the morality of the casinos, one has to admire the audacity of the entreprenuers who keep building them ever larger and more grand. Earley shows how over the last quarter century gambling (or gaming, as its now called) has lost a lot of its negative stigma and how big time investment bankers have pushed the mob out of the casino racket. Earley also makes some attempts to show a balanced account of the downside of legalized gambling on a massive scale. Like any good journalist, he lets the reader make the moral judgements.
Overall, the is an interesting and well-written book that will captivate anyone drawn to this subject matter.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I have ever read, May 19, 2004
By 
"johnromeo" (Richmond, VA United States) - See all my reviews
I was not able to put this book down. It is broken into two parts. Part one is the history of Vegas, part two focuses on a handfull of its residents over a year. While I was looking for a book on Vegas, I wanted to know more about personal experiences there, like what was in the second part of the book. I figured I wouldn't care for the history part, and would maybe skip it if it got boring. I was totally wrong. The history part was every bit as engaging. It's really a study in business more than history. It was thoroughly enjoyable, and part two was also. I like the way the author spends a year with these people (prostitiute, security guard, showgirl, etc.) and tells their story thoughout the book, instead of all in one chapter. Very well written. Also, very balanced in my opinion. At no point did I feel the author was judging anything, merely reporting it.
I could go on and on. It's books like this that make fiction look so dull.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So long to the myths..., February 21, 2000
By 
Frank Hannah (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
I really liked this book. I zipped right through it and it really offered an inside look into the day to day operations of a Las Vegas Super Casino. One of the other reviewers said the book was a let down. I guess if I had known about most of the anecdotes referred to in the book, I might feel that way to, but I loved every minute of it.
The sad thing is that we have this idealized thought of what we think Vegas is. Mobsters, high rollers etc... In the end, you get the sense that the whole place has become more clinical and precise. Everything is calculated down to the last dime and the gambling seems almost peripheral. The business of the business strips the myths clean. Unfortunately, the city's history is much more exciting than its future...
Still, the book is a compelling read with plenty of info to mull over...
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GOOD LOOK INSIDE, February 13, 2000
Being a "Vegas Buff" for almost 40 years, I think I have read just about every-thing written about this very American, very strange town in the desert.
The author has done a wonderful job of explaing what really goes on behind the scenes, and brings the reader into a new world rarely seen,by most of us.
His detailed reporting is excellent, and truly commend his efforts. Can't wait to see his next story.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Super Casino, April 9, 2000
By 
Super Casino offers a fascinating look at "behind the scenes" Las Vegas. I bought the book with the intent of reading only the second half (a close look at the Luxor), however I began, out of curiosity, at the beginning of the book. I found this part(a history of the Circus Circus corporation) so interesting that I read the book in its entirety. This was one of those books that you hate to put down once you begin reading. It has renewed my desire to return to Las Vegas for a vacation, and to visit the Luxor, the subject of most of the book. I would strongly recomend Super Casino to anyone who has visited Las Vegas. Having been there certainly enhances the reader's understanding of much of the book.
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