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Pigs, Mini-Golf and Oscar

From Oscar Goodman to gourmet swine, a look back at some wacky casino stories

Pigs, Mini-Golf and Oscar

It’s a new year, but I’ve been mulling over the amusing stories that came out in the past few months. There were a lot of them in our casino universe. To wit:

A headline on the Fox29 Las Vegas website caught my eye. It said:

“Las Vegas Pigs Once Again Dining on Casino Scraps.”

Immediately, I went down the list of Las Vegas sports teams: Las Vegas Raiders. Vegas Golden Knights. The Las Vegas Pigs? I thought maybe it was a team in a competitive eating league. But why are they eating scraps?

No, these are real pigs on farms near Las Vegas. Several Strip megaresorts evidently have always sent food scraps from their restaurants to the pig farms to feed the swine. Then the pandemic hit, and the farmers were struggling to feed their pigs while the casinos were closed.

Happily, Fox29 says Porky is back to normal now, since the industry is back up and running. The oinkers are gleefully oinking, grunting and rolling around in filth while eating Bobby Flay steaks and Guy Fieri chops. (Looking at the video of the pigs, I think I saw some of them in those restaurants. They were wearing Hawaiian shirts, but I’m pretty sure it was them.)

Moving on, authorities in Colorado and Wyoming have approved a new sports wagering activity—betting on mini-golf. It turns out that sportsbooks will offer wagers on contests of the U.S. ProMiniGolf Association. That’s right, the USPMGA. They even have their own “Masters” tournament, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Professional mini-golf players can’t be full-time like real golfers, because the money’s just not there yet.

Officials of the USPMGA bristle at that term “real golfers,” by the way, one griping to SportsHandle that “nobody thinks mini-golf is a real sport.”

I’m trying. Honest. I’m imagining a hushed-voice announcer right now, narrating a USPMGA match, whispering, “Phil Mickelson for par, as he tries to find the hole before the front of the fake building comes crashing down with sounds of thunder… Oh, the thunder sound distracted him!”

“Tiger Woods for the birdie… Ohhh, he just missed the front of the bridge that leads to the cave where the hole is! He’ll have to settle for par… Wait, did he hit the clown’s mouth, Tony? Oh, he did! It’s a bogey! The clown is laughing, and Tiger’s down three strokes!”

“That metal loop-de-loop may cost him the match!”

I have more, but I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say that any sport where stars show up with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths and have beer breaks is OK in my book. (It’s why I love bowling.)

I’m waiting for sportsbooks that let you bet on cornhole. Because there’s an American Cornhole Association. The ACA. I looked it up.

Next, you gotta love Oscar Goodman. The former mayor of Las Vegas showed up a few weeks ago with his wife Carolyn, the current mayor of Las Vegas, for the unveiling of the second statue of the former mayor. Created by artist Brian Hanlon, who also sculpted the first Goodman statue at Oscar’s Steakhouse in the Plaza, it portrays Goodman atop a granite stand, grinning and holding a martini. It’s the perfect image for its location, the Historic Fifth Street School, which, appropriately, is on Fourth Street.

Schoolchildren can now arrive at school gazing at a true role model, booze in hand. Too bad Hanlon didn’t add Goodman’s notorious client Tony “The Ant” Spilotro like he did for the Oscar’s Steakhouse statue.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Goodmans arrived at the unveiling in characteristic style—they “rumbled to the presentation while riding in the back of the familiar pink 1955 Cadillac convertible driven by Elvis impressionist Jesse Garon.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to be like Oscar when I grow up—chauffeured by Elvis to events where statues of me will be unveiled. (I hope they get the mustache right.)

Finally, famous pastry chef Dominique Ansel has introduced the “Cronut” at his eponymous shop inside Caesars Palace. It’s a combination of the croissant and the donut he invented at his bakery in New York City. It’s made with laminated dough, fried in grapeseed oil then rolled in sugar, filled with cream and topped with glaze.

Ansel comes up with a new flavor for his Cronut every month. For December, it was Mandarin Orange & Dark Chocolate, filled with cherry ganache and creamy cappuccino ganache.

I want one. Like, now. I don’t care if it kills me.

Incidentally, I understand the Cronut is the official pastry of the U.S. ProMiniGolf Association. And Oscar Goodman.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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