Gavin Maloof: The King of Las Vegas

Gavin Maloof: The King of Las Vegas

The first thing one notices when meeting Gavin Maloof is — it’s like you’ve known him for your entire life.

Instantly engaging and inherently fascinating, Maloof didn’t seem much interested in talking about himself this sweltering summer afternoon inside the Bellagio coffee shop in Las Vegas. However, his natural charisma and instinctive talent for telling a great story kept on rebounding our conversation back to the latest chapter in living what is every man’s dream.

Given his passions, and they are considerable, he doesn’t just merit a permanent placement on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Rather, he deserves a roped-off, V.I.P., Hall of Fame shrine.

Never one to flaunt the implicit rank of being wildly successful in business and entertainment, he insisted immediately that I call him “Gavin.” I’d been at his table no more than 90 seconds, and I’d already made a friend.

Indeed, ask around town — just about everyone who meets Gavin thinks of him as their closest pal. He’s the least intimidating multi-millionaire-sports-franchise-owning-tycoon-of-a-regular-guy you will ever meet. Gavin hangs out in places where rest of us would love to go if time and money were never an issue — from craps tables to posh nightclubs to the hottest musical concerts. Gavin never feels any need to act differently from anyone else and play his ace-in-the-hole as a businessman-celebrity, even though he could buy most of us 100 times over. He just does his thing.

Gavin comes from the prominent Maloof family, which owns and operates several businesses spread throughout the United States. He grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Maloof’s earliest financial success came from owning the local Coors (beer) distributorship. However, Gavin exploded upon the sports and celebrity scene in 1998 when he joined with other family members (most notably — his brother George) and bought the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. The Maloofs ran the team for the next 15 years.

However, it was their grandiose Las Vegas exploits which splashed the Maloofs all over the tabloids. Right after purchasing the Kings, the Maloof family built and opened what would become the Palms Casino Resort. Instantly, the Palms became the hottest place to hang out in Las Vegas, due in no small part to Gavin playing the eager role of toastmaster and court jester. Every weekend, the Palms was the place to be, for Gavin and a few thousand of his closest friends.

“I really enjoy everything about living the life,” Gavin said. “It never gets old. Anyone who says it gets old hanging around and being recognized by people all the time just isn’t doing it right.”

Gavin’s business ventures took a sharp detour a few years ago when the Maloofs made a tough decision to sell the Kings. The family also divested from the Palms, which was later purchased by Station Casinos. Say what you will about the new ownership, but neither the Kings nor the Palms have been the same since then. Now, the Kings are one of the NBA’s worst franchises. The Palms has turned into yet another vault in the Stations’ gaming empire.

Gavin still manages to stay quite busy. His latest ventures — hockey and curing hangovers. Not that they’re related.

First, about hockey. Gavin is one of the key investors in the NHL’s new franchise, which debuts in Las Vegas this fall. He’s devotedly optimistic about hockey’s chances for success in a desert city with no proven ability to support a professional sports franchise and overcome the admitted challenges of distractions which sports teams don’t have to contend with in a city like, say, Sacramento.

“The Golden Knights are going to do very well in Las Vegas,” Gavin insisted. “What’s ideal is — the team gets a two-year head start on the (NFL’s) Raiders, who won’t come here until 2019. So, the Golden Knights will have a huge opportunity to build up a solid fan base. It’s already working — more than half of the season ticket holders say they have never been to a hockey game before.”

It remains to be seen how much of a role behind the scenes Gavin will play for the new hockey franchise, since Bill Foley, who lives in Jacksonville, Florida is the majority owner and public face of the team. One thing’s for sure — Gavin is likely to attend many games and will continue enjoying the late night scene afterward.

That brought our conversation around to Gavin’s other primary focus at the moment — hangovers.

The party animal who’s no stranger to the Las Vegas nightlife has witnessed more than his share of room-spinning paybacks on the following morning after a particularly long night of craziness. While Gavin has a pretty rock solid reputation for holding down his food and wine (“it just comes with experience,” he insists), he also recognized there’s sometimes a downside to party lifestyle.

Never Too Hungover is an elixir, as close to a “cure” for the dreaded hangover as now exists. The product is routinely ingested before a night out on the town (or a day on the town, if you’re really into heavy partying), and promises to diminish the all-too-nauseating effects of a painful and messy “morning after.”

“Best thing about the product is that it’s not like the energy drinks — most of them are very bad for you,” Gavin said. “Never Too Hungover is made with several natural ingredients which have proven health benefits. The product is now even sold at GNC stores, which specializes in vitamins and supplements. Best of all — it works.”

With that persuasive pitch, two industrial size boxes of Never Too Hungover were placed upon our table. Even though I don’t drink alcohol at all, Gavin’s passion for the hangover prevention product was so infectious, that now I might have to start.

Nightclubs, casinos, basketball, hockey, and now hangovers out of the way, next it was time to talk about another of Gavin’s favorite passions — shooting craps.

“I know it’s crazy. You don’t see someone who used to own a casino shooting dice, but it’s fun and something I enjoy doing,” Gavin said. “I live in Las Vegas and I love it here. So, when I’m not working I’m going to play here — that’s just how I roll.”

Gavin has rolled a few points in his day. He’s become famous for shooting hot rolls and attracting huge throngs of crowds attracted to the commotion and excitement of big money on the layout. When asked about his biggest score in craps ever, Gavin thought for a moment and then blurted out, “$640,000, I think it was.”

“$640,000 in a session?” I asked. “How long was the session?”

“No,” Gavin snapped back. “Not a session. $640,000 in a single roll, making a series of passes.”

I looked around for the box of hangover medicine.

“$640,000? How’s that even possible?” I queried — thinking that Gavin must be getting annoyed with me wanting all the nitty gritty details.

“I made like six hardways in a row. Shot every number. Covered the board with chips. Kept on pressing it up. I held the dice for two hours,” Gavin said.

“If I held the dice for two hours and won $640,000 they’d arrest me for masturbating in public,” I blurted out.

Gavin laughed. “Remind me never to shoot craps with you, then,” he shot back.