Sharkey Begovich looks at gambling

At 75, Sharkey Begovich knows more than most folks about the history of gaming in Northern Nevada.

He also embodies part of the change its undergoing. With the sale of the casino he bought in ... for several million dollars to Holder Group LLD, it marks a transition for gaming in Northern Nevada and Carson Valley.

The casino will, of course, have onsite managers, but many decisions will be made at Holder headquarters in Sparks.

Begovich said that "Indian gaming has got (Northern Nevada's casino owners) scared to death and rightfully so.

"They're going to have to change their whole program," he said. In the future, the casinos of Northern Nevada will have to stage different events to attract crowds.

"They'll have to do things to bring people to them they never dreamt before," he said. "They'll have to build convention centers and do a little more than they ever dreamed they ever had to."

Begovich is unsure when Northern Nevada will have too many casinos competing with one another.

"I don't know where the fine line is at," he said. "When there's enough of it, there's enough of it."

However, Sharkey, a lifelong gambler who has admitted in earlier interviews that he lost a job at Harrah's for gambling with the casino's money, also reflected about gambling itself.

"There's no such thing as being a gambler and not hurting your family, or your lover," he said. "And you're not going to make them happy that many times compared to the times you're going to hurt them."

Begovich said there are major differences between the gaming industry when he entered it during the 1950s and today, and the men who ran the casinos back then.

"They were the ones who brought gaming out of the dark ages."

Begovich said it's only been in the last 50 years, that gaming has "had any respectability."

Begovich said people have to remember how small it was 25 years ago compared to what it is today.

"Look at the number of people who are employed" in the gaming industry, he said. "I don't think anybody anywhere in the world does the job that Nevada does as far as their controls and their licensing procedures," he said. "They're absolutely the best."

When asked about Hal Holder, the man who bought Sharkey's, Begovich said "it's a tough thing to compare one guy with another guy."

"(The older generation) they were a different kind of cat," he said. "They were personally involved in about anything they (did).

"If they put out a buffet for this weekend, they personally went down and saw what the buffet looked like," he said. "They didn't have people come up and tell them this and that. They don't exist anymore. Gambling just isn't what it was."

Begovich considers himself lucky and is thankful for the career he had in the gaming industry, but he's glad to be retired.

"Life is about people and that's what it's all about," he said. "You meet some interesting ones. Like myself, I consider myself very lucky that me and Mr. (Bill) Harrah were good friends."

However, Begovich said the gaming industry has become very complex.

"There's so much to it," he said. "It's so big anymore that it's way too big for an old peanut like me to even talk about.

"I don't even understand the figures," he said. "I was just a guy lucky enough to get in and out with his shirt still on. And that takes some doing."


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