Las Vegas Sun

November 27, 2014

Phil Long New Casino Boss of Tropicana

In a surprise move late last night, Phil Long, owner of the California Club, was appointed operating manager of the Tropicana Hotel casino.

The announcement was made by J. Kell Houssels. Sr., who assumed temporary direction of the casino yesterday after the former casino boss closed down the operation for eight hours in an "unprecedented and unauthorized" move.

Under the new arrangement, it was reported, Long will be responsible directly to Houssels, who represents the casino interest for the stockholders.

A former pit boss at the Tropicana, Long left the hotel about two months ago to take over the downtown casino. Long said last night that the California Club is "running smoothly" and will allow him to devote necessary time to his new position.

Part of his duties will be the personal direction of the swing shift.

The former casino manager, Mickey Colohan, ordered the casino closed at 3:30 a.m. yesterday because he said he felt that the hotel was short of funds. He explained that he made the move "rather than risk any major wins and a loss of integrity."

Hotel president T.M. Schimberg, who was away in Reno, reopened the casino when he returned at 11:40 a.m. yesterday. At that time, Houssels, a long-time figure in Las Vegas gambling, took over the management of the casino, replacing Colohan who was fired.

Houssels brought with him funds to "operate, pay creditors and employees. We are definitely open and will continue to remain open."

He revealed that new financing was raised for the $12,000,000 resort's gambling operation last Wednesday at a meeting of the stockholders in Chicago. He said he personally financed the casino, pending arrival of the funds from Chicago. Though the amount of the money put into the casino was not revealed, informed sources put the amount close to $500,000.

Houssels' operator of the El Cortez and Showboat hotels was casino director of the resort when the Tropicana first opened and has remained on the board of directors of the hotel.

Colohan's action in closing down the casino was termed by Housseles as "unauthorized and unprecedented."

Hotel officials said that "for the past few weeks," there have been some consistent winners at the hotel gaming tables.

Sheriff W.E. Leypoldt, chairman of the county gaming licensing board, said that "as far as I know the Tropicana has no financial problems." He said he checked with both the federal internal revenue service and with creditors of the hotel.

Leypoldt believed that there may have been some partnership difficulties at the hotel. He confirmed Houssels' statement with respect to the shutdown decision resting wholly with Colohan who owns a one percent interest in the Tropicana.

Leypoldt said that if the hotel "bosses" had not been out of town, the incident never would have happened.

"I don't foresee any trouble out there, at all," Leypoldt added.

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