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Best of Rudi Schiffer

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Heard it on the River: Remembering Chief Martin

3 March 2010

REMEMBERING CHIEF MARTIN…I first met Choctaw Chief Phillip Martin at the opening of the Silver Star Casino and he was not a man of many words. His actions always spoke for him and the Mississippi Band of Choctaws as they produced many tangible results that benefited his people during his many years as leader of the Choctaws. Many people outside the Choctaw Band were not aware of his enduring belief and work that resulted in a real difference in the lives of the of those around him. Others, however, knew him as the leader who took his dreams and founded the very successful Pearl River Resort and that he was more than a casino executive.

With his recent passing at the age of 83, it is worth noting his travails, and the path he traveled, that made the Choctaws a subject of admiration around the country. For over 45 years he was a major influence in the affairs of his people and as the elected chief his tenure was marked by amazing progress.

When he became Chief in 1979, unemployment was rampant, not to mention discrimination, sub par housing, medical coverage, educational opportunities and more. He was a major force in changing all that and today's tribe of over 10,000 members enjoy totally improved conditions brought about by Chief Martin. A visionary and trailblazer he oversaw the building of the Tribes' welfare with jobs and work in automotive and electronics manufacturing from a small industrial park on the reservation. When the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act came into being in 1988, there were already 3,000 jobs in effect and a solid base for moving into the gaming business.

Today the Tribe has a full-fledged casino destination resort complete with two casino/hotels, one of the most admired golf clubs in the region, a highly successful water theme park and other amenities. A ten-year veteran of the Air Force when he returned home, his career and successes were recognized and he became President of the National Tribal Chairmen's Association, founder and past president of the United South and Eastern Tribes, first president of the Board or Regents of Haskell Indian Junior College and founder/president of the United South and Eastern Tribes Gaming Association. There were many more honors along the path during his 28 years as Chief but he is best remembered for the foundation he constructed that opened many doors of opportunity for generations of Choctaws to come.

Happy trails Chief Martin. (1926-2010)

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Will another entrepreneurial and respected gaming legend return to his earlier success in Tunica? Lyle Berman, he of the former Grand Casino here, and now CEO of Lakes Entertainment, has been engaged to manage the transformation of the former Isle of Capri casino/hotel adjacent to Sam's Town. Working under the name of Sportsman Casino and Lodge, Lyle is the guy who can make it go and inject new excitement into the Tunica market that could use some. Abston-Mckay Ventures, LLC of Mississippi has retained Berman and its principals are Fleet Abston of Memphis, Kevin Hunter of Oxford and Bruce Raben of Los Angeles. The investment is said to be about $80 million. Is the money there? Investment bankers are working on putting the financing in order. Stay tuned.

More good news for the Tunica market was the recent announcement that AirTran Airways is set to fly roundtrip, nonstop flights between Tunica and Atlanta beginning in May. The big hub that the Hartsfield-Jackson is and the 47 connections there to other destinations makes this a real winner for Tunica.

St. Patrick's Day will soon be upon us and Fitz, of course, will do its part to making it a fun celebration. Green beer, Irish fare , beads and such, along with a $5,000 slot tournament, not to mention live entertainment, will liven up Tunica. Also of note, the $50,000 Promo Cash Fridays is up and running.

Every Saturday in March you can scratch your way to winnings at GoldStrike where up to a million bucks will b e given away in drawings. Twelve winners each Saturday will win up to $10,000 in FreePlay, as well as other attractive prizes. The All About Aces video poker tournament takes place here on March 3,10 and 24 with $10,000 available and the Knights of the Half Round Table $30,000 Three Card Poker Tournament takes place March 5,6 and 7. Like blackjack tournaments.? The $50,000 March Mania Blackjack tournament is set for March 26-27. On March 13 TV talk show host and comedian Craig Ferguson appears at the Gold Strike Millennium Theatre. By the way, if you can't play but want to see poker pros in action, the Delta Gold Poker Classic continues through March 8. www.goldstrike.com for the tournament schedule.

On Feb. 26-27 Sam's Town hosts a $50,000 open slot tournament and a $200 buy-in also gets you a hotel room and food.

The $50K Golden Ticket Giveaway is still up and running at Southland Gaming & Racing on Saturdays where 10 winners will be chosen at 8 and 10 p.m. to win free play or cash and qualify for the grand prize drawing in March where one lucky person will find the Golden Ticket worth $50,000 in cash. If you like the ponies, check out the only pari-mutuel betting book in the area at the Winner's Edge room where you can sit in the privacy of your own carrel complete with TV, service and a cashiers cage. Oaklawn is now in season and if you want to get your handicapping done for you, listen to the GoodTimes Radio Show Saturday morning when ace handicapper, Vinny Gulla, makes his selections about 9:15 on WMC79 AM.

FROM THE QUOTABLE GAMBLER, Lyons Press

Gamblers, with a few exceptions, are the most honest men in the world.

Nick "The Greek" (1969)

LAISSEZ LE BON TEMPS ROULER

Rudi Schiffer

Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com
Rudi Schiffer
Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com