01/14/2004 12:00AM

Slight snag in Golden Nugget sale


All of the focus the past week in downtown Las Vegas has been on Binion's Horseshoe.

There's no denying that the closing of the landmark last Friday night was big news, as was the subsequent purchase of the property by Harrah's Entertainment Inc. And the future of downtown will be greatly affected by what Harrah's does with the property. But there is another story from downtown that has been overshadowed by the Binion's Horseshoe situation.

The Golden Nugget's pending sale to entrepreneurs Tim Poster and Tom Breitling, founders of Travelscape.com, hit a speed bump last week when the Gaming Control Board's three-member panel recommended to the Nevada Gaming Commission that Poster and Breitling be given only a limited one-year gaming license.

The Board reprimanded the two for associating with Rick Rizzolo, owner of the Crazy Horse Too gentlemen's club and a target in an organized crime investigation by the FBI. Regulators cited evidence of Poster and Breitling associating with Rizzolo, including proof of visits to the strip club, dinners, phone records, and a trip to Del Mar.

The $215 million purchase, which includes the Golden Nugget in Laughlin, is still expected to go through, with the funds already reportedly in escrow. Plans are also moving forward for a Fox reality TV show called "The Casino" on all the behind-the-scenes work in opening a new casino - along the same lines as last year's "The Restaurant," which took place in New York.

FBI kept busy

Rizzolo isn't the only strip club owner in Las Vegas who has had troubles with the law. Michael Galardi, former owner of Cheetah's and Jaguar's gentlemen's clubs, was recently indicted in both San Diego and Las Vegas for allegedly bribing politicians in attempts to get lap-dancing laws loosened. He had to sell his clubs to his father, Jack Galardi, who was forced to close Jaguar's when its liquor license was revoked and was fined more than $1 million by the city, but was able to keep the liquor license at Cheetah's. The elder Galardi's clubs in Florida are also being investigated for allegedly allowing acts of prostitution.

Trouble in boxing world, too

There's been a joke going around that the strip club scandals are making the sport of boxing look like a respectable business.

Of course, then last week the Las Vegas offices of Top Rank Inc., owned by famed boxing promoter Bob Arum, were raided by the FBI in connection with an investigation that started in New York and is looking into allegations of fixed fights and drug trafficking.

None of the specific allegations has been revealed, but boxer Mitchell Rose told the New York Daily News that he refused a $5,000 offer from unnamed Top Rank employees to take a fall in a 1995 fight at Madison Square Garden vs. Eric "Butterbean" Esch. Rose won the fight with a second-round knockout.

There has been speculation that the investigation might include Shane Mosley's controversial decision over Oscar De La Hoya in September at the MGM Grand. After that fight, De La Hoya and Arum were the ones calling for a full investigation, including questioning the judges.

Sporting events star-struck

The Las Vegas Rattlers are a little-known team that plays in the American Basketball Association. They play in the Las Vegas Events Center, the former SportsPark, on E. Sunset Road, just east of Las Vegas Boulevard. Heading into Wednesday night's game at Kansas City, the Rattlers were 7-6 and in third place.

None of that sounds too exciting, but the Rattlers do have star power. Their top player is Percy Miller, who is better known as rapper Master P. The team's coach is also famous: Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, better known as the father of Kobe.

The team has drawn decent crowds of 500 with an XFL-type presentation that includes loud music and an announcer who gives a running play-by-play. But the biggest crowds will probably show up next Tuesday and Wednesday when the Long Beach Jam come to town. Dennis Rodman has signed with the Jam and is expected to make his debut Friday night at the Long Beach Pyramid.

Tuesday and Wednesday's games are set for 7 p.m., with prices ranging from $5 to $10 to $25 for floor seats.

Second-tier all-stars

Many people complain about the oversaturation of college football bowl games in which teams with 6-6 records get rewarded for mediocre seasons. Well, college all-star games might be reaching that level, too.

The inaugural All-American Classic takes place Saturday at Sam Boyd Stadium at 12:30 p.m. Former Florida coach Galen Hall will coach the East with longtime NFL assistant coach Joe Pendry coaching the West.

This game won't include the upper-tier NFL prospects (they're playing in the Hula Bowl in Maui later in the day), but there are some recognizable names, like Washington St. quarterback Matt Kegel, Oregon quarterback Jason Fife, Minnesota quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq, and Utah running back Brandon Warfield.

Tickets are available at the Thomas and Mack Center box office, unlvtickets.com, and all Station Casinos.