Quick Fact – Matrimonial Diss

1947 Hollywood actress Mildred Jenkins testified in court about her wedding night in Nevada. After marrying A.Q. Bonner, Jr., a Northern California rancher, the two had breakfast and went to a casino. “A.Q. lost all his money then insisted I give him mine because, he said, it belonged to both of us now,” she said. “When I repeatedly refused, he said I took the marriage too seriously and that he thought it was just a good gag” (Los Angeles Times, July 26, 1947). The judge granted Jenkins an annulment.

Gunfire Roils Crowded Harolds Club

1947-1953 Harolds Club bustled on Christmas Eve in 1947 with revelers enjoying the gambling and camaraderie when an unexpected event instantly silenced the din. Panic followed. Since the previous morning, Reno, Nevada police had been trying to locate a suspect: white male, approximately 20 years old, 5 feet 8 inches, 150 pounds. He’d robbed two taxicabs at gunpoint — one for $17 and one for $5 (about $184 and $54 today, respectively) — and had failed a third attempt. At around 12:30 a.m., detective sergeants Francis Quinn and James Franklin spotted the alleged criminal entering Harolds Club. They followed him inside, where they informed patrolman William Reeder, working his regular beat there, of the situation. The three quickly fanned out then closed in on their target. “Take your hands out of your pockets,” Quinn ordered. The young man shot at the officers. All three fell, wounded. They didn’t fire back for fear a bystander might get hurt. Meanwhile, casino guests darted under tables or ran. Amazingly, none was hit. Pursuit of Fugitive The suspect fled out the door. He got into a taxicab and after riding for a few minutes, pulled a gun on the driver (who hadn’t heard about […]

Token from the Old Cathay Club, a casino, restaurant and bar open in the mid-1950s in Reno, Nevada

1955-1966 Harry Chon, licensed operator of the gambling operations at the Old Cathay Club* in Reno, Nevada, found himself in an uncomfortable spot, under pressure from two parties, in 1956. The story begins about a year earlier, when two other men, Horace Fong and his godfather, Moon Wah, applied unsuccessfully for a gambling license for the same property. Of the two, only Wah had casino experience, and he’d been convicted recently of tax evasion in California. Soon after, Fong re-applied — this time with Chon named as the co-licensee — but to no avail because the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) deemed Fong unsuitable, likely due to his relationship with Wah. Then Chon alone sought and was granted a gambling license to lease space from Fong and run a casino in it. Fong operated the other entities on the property, a restaurant and bar. Rumblings Then Temblor In spring 1957, the NGCB heard rumors that individuals other than Chon were running the gambling at the Old Cathay. It was verboten to change casino interests without approval first from gaming regulators, so agents investigated. Chon confided in them he’d hired a man named Fred Down to manage the casino, but Down […]

Quick Fact – Early Gambling Ban

  1859 Before Nevada became a state (1864), a few hundred miners at Gold Hill — in what then was the Territory of Utah — passed some anti-crime laws. One forbade gambling:  “No Banking games, under any consideration shall be allowed in this district under the penalty of final banishment from the District,” according to the Territorial Enterprise. Photo from the University of Nevada, Reno Special Collections: by I.E. James


1886 In fall 1886, Officer John L. Fonck confronted one of his superiors face to face. He charged Chief of Police J.W. Davis with “standing in with the gamblers,” in other words, allowing them to operate their illegal casinos unfettered (Los Angeles Times, Dec. 8, 1886). California had banned gaming 26 years earlier. In response, Davis suspended him for insubordination. When Fonck subsequently asked the Police Commissioners to reinstate him, they fired him instead. The unemployed officer then took his allegations against Davis to the Los Angeles Times, which published them. Chief Publicly Outed Consequently, the Los Angeles City Council members held a special meeting to investigate. During this proceeding in which attorneys were disallowed, Fonck presented a case, gave a statement and questioned witnesses. He depicted a scenario in which Davis: • Accepted protection money from local, Chinese gamblers • Tipped off those individuals about upcoming raids • Obstructed, in other ways, officers’ efforts to close gambling dens Soon after Davis took office, in December 1885, Captain of Police C.A. Ketlar told Fonck that he (Ketlar) and Chief Davis “let them play and pay,” referring to the Chinese gamblers, and that everyone could benefit from the arrangement. The next day, […]

Quick Fact – Serious Boredom

1800s To amuse themselves, some miners — California ones, as reported in this case — staged lice fights and waged large sums on the outcome. They placed two Pediculus humanus face to face on a level surface and nudged them forward until their heads touched. Then the battle was on. “Through their large magnifying lenses, the men would watch the combat with intense interest. The insects would often fight with great ferocity, lunging at each other with their tusks, biting off legs, rearing up on end, and displaying throughout the most desperate valor. The struggle would only end with the death of one or both of the gladiators,” reported the Reno Evening Gazette (Feb. 5, 1880).

Reasonably Gambling Bonus

Any reasonably reputable gambling house has such a bonus where a player gets rewarded for his first deposit. Often, these bonuses will offset the payment by the casino and hence the term „match bonus“ for a bonus where each deposit gets doubled up to a certain limit. For example, an offer may read like this: […]