WASHINGTON—The father of modern riverboat gaming, two legendary boxing promoters and an award-winning celebrity chef will be inducted this year into the Gaming Hall of Fame.
Bernard “Bernie” Goldstein, chairman of the board and former CEO of Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc.; Robert “Bob” Arum, chairman of the board of Top Rank; charismatic and ground-breaking boxing promoter Don King; and Emeril Lagasse, a celebrity chef and television personality with four restaurants in gaming communities from Biloxi to Las Vegas, will be honored for their unique achievements on Tuesday, September 16 at the 20th annual Gaming Hall of Fame Charity Dinner and Induction Ceremony. Red Rock Casino Resort Spa will host the event, which benefits the National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG).
“The gaming entertainment industry is one that is constantly changing, and it is because of innovators like Bernie, Bob, Don and Emeril that the industry continues to rise to new heights,” said Frank J. Fahrenkopf, Jr., president and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA). “Their contributions are truly outstanding and we are honored to include them with the other legends of the Gaming Hall of Fame.”
Following a successful 40-year career in scrap metal recycling, river freight transportation and affiliated businesses as leader of the Alter Companies, Bernard “Bernie” Goldstein tested retirement before using his entrepreneurial spirit to start a second career, which earned him the moniker as the “father of riverboat gaming”. He was instrumental in lobbying for the original riverboat gaming legislation in Iowa and opened the nation’s first riverboat casino, the M/V Diamond Lady, which sailed from Bettendorf, Iowa on April 1, 1991.
Goldstein also opened the first riverboat casino in the South in Biloxi, Miss. on August 1, 1992. The boat was owned and operated by a newly-formed public company now known as Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. Isle of Capri Casinos rapidly grew to become one of the largest regional gaming operators in the United States, and Goldstein now serves as the chairman of its board after serving as chief executive officer until 2008. Prior to his leadership role with Isle of Capri Casinos, Goldstein was chairman of the board of the Steamboat Companies, which operated casino riverboats in Iowa, and chairman of the board and president of Casino Cruises, Inc., which opened and managed the gaming operations of the Par-A-Dice Riverboat Casino in Peoria, Ill. through March 1993.
“Riverboat casinos changed the face of the industry by making gaming entertainment available throughout the Midwest and the South, and Bernie Goldstein is the man who has set the gold standard for this is segment of the gaming industry.” Fahrenkopf said.
Legendary boxing promoter Robert “Bob” Arum promoted the first fight he ever attended, Muhammad Ali’s title bout with George Chuvalo in March, 1966. He eventually promoted 25 bouts for Ali. In promoting champions like Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes, Marvin Hagler, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya with “superfights” such as Hagler-Leonard, Ali-Frazier and many others, Arum has participated in most of the top-grossing fights in boxing history.
Arum changed the landscape of boxing in Las Vegas through his promotion of the first major bout to be held in a casino venue – Ali/Spinks I at the Las Vegas Hilton in February 1978. His rise culminated in September of 1978 when he promoted a then-record four world title fights. Arum also was on the cutting edge by utilizing technology as a promotion and marketing strategy. In the early 1970s, Arum established himself by understanding the complexities and potential of closed-circuit television as a marketing vehicle to present championship matches. In the 1980s, he solidified his position as one of the sport’s top promoters by utilizing the growing pay-per-view medium. Today, Arum has received countless awards and accolades, including being inducted in the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1999, and named “Promoter of the Year” by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) in 2005. Currently, Arum’s company, Top Rank, promotes three of the top ten “pound-for-pound” best boxers in the world as determined by the boxing experts at ESPN.
Few personalities have transformed their fields as much as Don King has affected the world of boxing promotion. He has presented more than 500 world championship fights, promoting luminary prizefighters including Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Mike Tyson, “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield and Roberto Duran, just to name a few. King’s seminal boxing events in Las Vegas and Atlantic City–always presented in partnership with the gaming industry–were key contributors that helped these cities become two of the most visited resort destinations in the world. He has promoted or co-promoted 11 of the 15 highest-grossing live gates in history of the state of Nevada including bouts at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino Garden Arena and Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. He promoted over 20 events in Atlantic City, including five blockbuster Mike Tyson fights between 1987 and 1990. In 2006, Atlantic City named a street adjacent to the famed Boardwalk “Don King Plaza” in his honor.
King is a six-time World Boxing Association (WBA) “Promoter of the Year” and also was named “Promoter of the Century” and “Promoter of the Millennium” by the WBA. The International Boxing Federation (IBF) named him “Promoter of the Decade” in 1996 and the World Boxing Council (WBC) deemed him the “Greatest Promoter of All Time” in 1994. He was the first promoter inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame and in 1994 was highlighted as one of Sports Illustrated’s “40 Most Influential Sports Figures of the Last 40 Years.”
Chef Emeril Lagasse is the chef-proprietor of 10 restaurants in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Orlando, Miami, and Gulfport, Miss. In the 90’s he became a force in the New Orleans restaurant scene with three restaurants in the city, Emeril’s, NOLA and Emeril’s Delmonico. In 1995, Emeril brought his “New New Orleans” cooking to Las Vegas and opened Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House, located in the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, and followed that up in 1999 with Delmonico Steakhouse in the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. In January 2008, he launched his third Las Vegas offering, Table 10 at The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino. Additionally, Lagasse opened Emeril’s Gulf Coast Fish House at the Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport, Miss. in 2007. He also has opened restaurants in Orlando at Universal Studios and in Miami Beach.
The recognition and awards he has garnered have made him known to food-loving Americans everywhere. Lagasse has been named “Best Southeast Regional Chef” by the James Beard Foundation, “Chef of the Year” by GQ magazine and one of People magazine’s “25 Most Intriguing People of the Year.” He has been chosen as “Executive of the Year” by Restaurants & Institutions magazine and received the “Distinguished Service Award” from Wine Spectator.Lagasse also is the best-selling author of 12 cookbooks and a national TV personality who has hosted more than 1600 shows on Food Network. He is the host of the “Essence of Emeril” and “Emeril Live” which is now in syndication. In July 2008, he will host “Emeril Green”, a new series exploring fresh and seasonal ingredients on Discovery Communications’ Planet Green. Emeril Lagasse joined the Martha Stewart family of brands in April 2008, when Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia acquired the assets related to Lagasse’s media and merchandising business.
“Entertainment and fine dining have become integral to the casino gaming industry, and these three men have raised the bar in both of these fields,” Fahrenkopf said. “Without them, the casino experience in Las Vegas and other gaming resorts would not be what it is today.”
Induction into the Gaming Hall of Fame is the highest honor accorded by the gaming-entertainment industry. Each year, two or more individuals who have distinguished themselves through significant contributions to the industry receive this honor. More than 60 people have been inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame since its inception 1989.
For information about sponsorship opportunities for the dinner, contact Keli Wallace at 202-552-2685. Ticket information is available on the NCRG Web site (www.ncrg.org).
The American Gaming Association (AGA) is the national trade association for the commercial casino industry. In addition to representing the interests of its members on federal legislative and regulatory issues, the AGA serves as a clearinghouse for information, develops educational and advocacy programs, and provides leadership on industry-related issues of public concern.
The National Center for Responsible Gaming (NCRG) is the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) affiliated charity. Founded in 1996 as a separate 501(c)3 charitable organization, the NCRG’s mission is to support peer-reviewed, scientific research into pathological gambling and provide scientifically-based responsible gaming education and outreach programs to casino communities nationwide. NCRG funds provide money to researchers from around the globe to increase understanding of pathological gambling and its impact, and to find effective methods of treatment for the disorder. Grant-making responsibilities are handled by the Institute for Research on Pathological Gambling and Related Disorders, a program of the Division on Addictions at Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. For more information, visit www.ncrg.org.