Two veteran blackjack dealers stood on Ogden Avenue in the chilly shadow of Binion’s Horseshoe Monday afternoon waiting for their final paychecks from the busted-out casino.
Dozens of others who’d spent many years cooking and serving food, sweeping floors and making change at the downtown casino waited nearby.
The foundering Horseshoe was slammed shut Friday night by U.S. marshals, who seized nearly $1 million in cash in an effort to force partial payment of up to $2 million in debts owed to union pension and health funds. The federal cash grab left the casino with insufficient funds to continue to operate, and the line of those the casino owes money stretches half the length of Fremont Street.
Those two dealers, with a combined 29 years at the casino, were among the hundreds of working people hurt by the shutdown of the house that Benny Binion built and the best efforts of Becky Binion Behnen couldn’t save. The casino employees weren’t surprised at the turn of events — on the contrary, they’d been expecting something like this for months — and offered an insider’s view of the operation as long as I agreed to use only their first names.
They blistered Behnen, daughter of the Horseshoe patriarch, for what they called her mismanagement and also blamed her husband, Nick Behnen, who is not a licensee at the club but, they said, still threw his weight around the casino.
“Nick was in there all the time,” Richard said. “If you told me he wasn’t in there every day, I wouldn’t believe it. He’d fire people on the spot.”
“He would (verbally) abuse employees,” Donna said.