New Trump Advisor Carl Icahn has Many Gambling Connections

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President-elect Donald J. Trump this week named octagenarian multi-billionaire investor Carl Icahn as Special Advisor to the President on Regulatory Reform.

Could any gambling regulations be up for reform, such as national legalization of sports betting or Internet gambling?

If so, Icahn would likely be a supporter of such reforms, considering his past history and connections with gambling.

Most famously, Icahn, 80, became an icon in the sports gambling world when he made a $2.4 million wager on the 1995 Super Bowl at a Las Vegas casino sportsbook.

The game in question was Super Bowl XXIX between the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers.

San Francisco was a 17-point favorite in the game.

The moneyline was San Francisco -800, meaning you had to risk $800 to win $100 if you wanted to bet the 49ers to just win the game without having to worry about covering a pointspread.

Icahn, a big-time sports bettor, liked the Niners to win the game, but wasn't sure whether they could cover the lofty pointspread.

So he called Jimmy Vaccaro, then the sportsbook director at the Mirage casino in Vegas, and told him he wanted to make a huge moneyline bet on the Super Bowl.

The next day, Icahn showed up at the Mirage with a suitcase full of cash and plunked down $2.4 million, at 1-8 odds, on the Niners to win the game.

They won handily, 49-26, and Icahn collected a cool $300,000.

For years, the legendary bet was just a rumor, as Icahn would neither confirm nor deny he had made the wager.

But eventually, some years later, in an interview, he admitted to making the super-sized Super Bowl bet.

But that's not Icahn's only connection to gambling--far from it.

The tycoon, whose wealth was estimated by Forbes magazine to be $20 billion, has held ownership stakes in various casinos over the years, including ones in Mississippi, Missouri, Indiana, Nevada, New Jersey and Aruba.

Among the casinos he or his company has owned are the famed Stratosphere on the Strip in Las Vegas and the Tropicana on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City.

In addition, one of Icahn's companies, Tropicana Entertainment Inc., ran but didn't own the Trump Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City.

Icahn also has another connection to gambling--horse racing.

From 1995 to 2004, he owned and operated a company called Foxfield Thoroughbreds, a horse-breeding operation which produced numerous horse racing champions, including one in 1990 named Meadow Star that won a key race at the prestigious Breeders' Cup.

Not all of Icahn's connections to gambling have been positive, however--consider his longtime friendship with professional sports bettor Billy Walters of Las Vegas.

In 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) jointly investigated professional golfer Phil Mickelson, Walters and Icahn in connection with allegations of insider trading.

Specifically, the agencies were looking into trades of Clorox stock made by Mickelson and Walters at around the time Icahn was attempting to acquire the Clorox company.

Investigators probed whether Icahn shared information about his takeover attempt of Clorox with Walters and whether Walters passed that information to Mickelson, a pal.

Ultimately, Icahn was cleared of any wrongdoing and never charged with a crime.

Now Icahn will have the ear of the new President, a man who himself has owned casinos.

Things could be looking up for the gambling industry.

It's about time.

By Tom Somach

Gambling 911 Staff Writer

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