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27/10/2002 No.21
he Good Gambler
The Editor or one of our professional correspondants make regular contributions to coverage of the gambling world.
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Becky Binion
Sandy Murphy
Ted Binion
Rick Tabish
Trouble rumbles on at Binion's

The home of the World Series of Poker refuses to end its troubles

Six years after filing a lawsuit against her brother, Jack Binion, and four years after the murderous death of her other brother, Ted Binion, Becky Behnen is still doing a balancing act between frying pan and fire.

Becky Behnen is owner/operator of Binion's Horseshoe in downtown Las Vegas, home of the World Series Of Poker. She took over control from brother Jack after claiming he had delibrately run the casino down with debts of $20 million. Two years later, she bought out her siblings' stake in the casino, becoming the property's sole owner.

Since that time the Horseshoe has been beset with high profile difficulties that have often included the World Series of Poker itself. Now in Oct 2002 none of them appear to have gone away.

In September a District Judge finally gave Ted Binion's estate permission to sell his home four years after the gambling figure's slaying. Sandy Murphy, Binion's former live-in girlfriend and now convicted of his murder, has been trying to block the sale of the home at 2408 Palomino Lane since it went to market last year. She was willed the house prior to Binion's Sept. 17, 1998, death.

The Supreme Court has ruled that Murphy can't inherit any portion of the gambling figure's $55 million estate because of her May 19, 2000, murder conviction. The high court currently is considering whether to overturn Murphy's conviction, as well as the murder conviction of her co-defendant, Montana contractor Rick Tabish. Both defendants were found guilty of pumping Binion with drugs and suffocating him at his home. They each are serving more than 20 years in prison.

Meanwhile on 23rd October another U.S. District Judge has ordered the FBI to provide the court with any clear evidence the agency may have that could clear Rick Tabish of the murder of Ted Binion. Tabish was caught digging up about $7 million worth of silver belonging to Binion from an underground vault at about 2 a.m. on Sept. 19, 1998, less than two days after Binion died. At a hearing the judge gave the federal government 60 days to turn the information over for his review. At issue is an FBI investigation that included a series of wiretaps in December 1999 and focused on racketeering and drug trafficking, and may include information about possible co-conspirators involved in Binion's 1998 murder, according to a sworn affidavit filed by FBI agent Gerald McIntosh.

Worst of all however was the Oct 1st shutdown of 40% of the Horseshoe casino because cash reserves were insufficient to meet Gaming Board requirements to back up possible payments. The shutdown fueled speculation about financial problems at the casino. Unlike some competitors that are part of publicly owned corporations, Binion's is privately held and is not required to release financial information to the public.

Each casino has a different reserve requirement based on the number of games in operation. The bankroll is primarily used to pay off gamblers should several jackpots hit at once.

Binion's is also battling two lawsuits by groups claiming the casino owes rent for a parcel of land that used to be in the Mint Casino but is now located within the Binion's casino and dues for the maintenance of the Fremont Street Experience tourist attraction. Fremont Street has obtained a trial date next year in Clark County District Court for a suit the company filed in August 2001. The suit claims past due fees of at least $1.9 million.

In an interview with television station KLAS Channel 8, Behnen said the games' shutdown was a "misunderstanding" and caused her so much stress that she was briefly hospitalized.

We wait to see whether the 2003 WSOP can go ahead.