Strip resort-building a tried-and-true fix to Southern Nevadas periodic economic doldrums - Friday 15th of February 2008

Game theorist Frank Lefty Rosenthal is the man Sports Illustrated crowned as the greatest living expert on sports handicapping.

But hes probably better known as the man actor Robert De Niro portrayed in the 1995 Martin Scorsese epic Casino, that also starred Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci.

Rosenthal ran four Las Vegas casinos owned by the Chicago mob back in the 1970s -- and is one of the few men ever to survive a car bombing.

Rosenthal, 78, now lives a quiet life of semi-retirement in South Beach, serving as a consultant for offshore online casinos. We asked him about Casino and the South Florida gambling scene.

Q: Actor Robert De Niro portrayed you in Casino as a character named Sam Ace Rothstein. Was there anything De Niro got wrong?

Bob De Niro studied the script and his character quite well. On execution, he was flawless. His director, imperfect.

Q: In one scene, theres a scene where your character orders security to crush the hand of a guy cheating at blackjack. How realistic is that?

A: Pretty much on target. The two bandits, using electronic signals, were not your ordinary thieves. They belonged to a rough and organized band of highly trained and professional pickpockets. They had raped the strip casinos over a period of time. . . . Hence, we played hardball, sending their entire crew a message.

Q: Youve spent time at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood, which will debut baccarat and blackjack this summer. If you ran the casino, what would you do?

A: Thats simple. Loose as a goose slots, returning at least 95 percent on every buck. They could go a shade higher, which would guarantee them a terrific handle.

Q: What are your favorite things to do as a South Beach resident?

A: Study and admire the Latina lovelies, with curves galore.

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