Gambling Man by Gary Green

Robert De Niro in Casino (1995) Anecdotes from Vegas' most eccentric casino operator.

Not every figure in the gambling industry describes themselves as a casino pioneer, civil rights campaigner, rock poet and folk singer. But then, not all gambling industry figures are quite like Gary Green.

The ‘Casino Magic Man’

The flamboyant Green has spent over 30 years in the casino industry, first organising tours to Atlantic City before moving into marketing. He went on to become Donald Trump’s right-hand man at the gambling empire, and his time spent as Trump’s marketing head honcho has obviously come to the fore in ‘Gambling Man’ (Gary Green/Penny Arcades) – Green’s own collection of anecdotes, inside tales and tips for budding casino managers across the world.

In fact, the whole book comes across as one big 420-page marketing exercise; mostly in Green marketing himself. Just one look at the quotes on the back of the book reveal Green’s focus here. Nothing about the book, of course, but plenty about Green’s achievements.

“…A casino magic man…with Barnum-like vigor. It is hard to argue with a strategy that has increased casino revenue by 59.1%,” gushes Casino Journal Magazine. “Class Act, Gary Green has brought Las Vegas flamboyance – and big profits to Indian Territory,” chimes in Indian Gaming Business.

Gambling Man sets out to portray the casino industry as a ‘gambling racket’ rather than a ‘gaming industry’ and it’s in this regard that the book succeeds.

Bringing Down the House

So, we get chapters on how casinos position slots and how budding Vegas travellers can bring down the house. Green’s are genuinely interesting to the layman, like avoiding Wheel of Fortune and heading straight for the Jacks or Better video poker machines. But then we see how a drop box works, an interesting potted history of casinos, plus some tales of his time working for everyone’s favourite toupee-wearing billionaire, Donald Trump (his spell with Trump lasted just two years, although an entire chapter is devoted here) and moves into west coast tribal casinos.

That’s where the book loses its flow somewhat. As Green says in the preface, he had an idea for four gambling books: one on his experiences of being a casino operator, one on the behind-the-scenes workings of a typical US casino, an accurate recent history of casinos, and one for the punter on winning streaks, beating the house, and cheating.

America’s Most Intense Rock Poet Loses his Flow

What Gambling Man ends up being is a mash-up of all of those strands. In fact, Green already has e-books on Trump (‘Marketing Donald Trump’, available on Amazon Kindle), and marketing (‘Marketing-Driven Casino Operational Business Plan’). Oh, and that’s not forgetting the man’s three “legendary” albums recorded as “one of America’s most intense [snigger] rock poets”.

Chapter 17, for example – How to Manage, Finance and Market Casinos – belongs in a brochure and you can’t help wondering that Gambling Man would have been better served being split into two separate books altogether, one for the layman and one for the marketing bods.

The best book written about Las Vegas and US casinos is ‘Super Casino’ by Pete Earley, a superb account of how Sin City dragged itself out of the Mob-run era of the 1950s and ’60s and into the age of gigantic Strip resorts that we take for granted these days.

Gambling Man travels a similar timeline, and while it may not quite sit at the same top table as Earley’s book, it’s still worth a read if you cherry-pick your chapters the right way. I’d certainly look forward to a Gary Green tome on Busting Gambling Myths.

Hollywood Adaptation in the Pipeline?

Now, what’s the betting the proposed Robert de Niro project about Green’s life gets off the ground?