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When the only types of legal gambling in Nevada were poker, five hundred, solo, whist, parimutuel betting on horse races and slot machines with restrictions, owner Eli Francovich* installed in his Wine House club in Reno a mesmerizing, colorful wheel of fortune bedecked with $1, $5, $10 and $20 bills.
Because it drew more customers than usual, the other local gambling house proprietors felt it unfair and ordered William Justi, city council member and police commission chairman, to shut it down, on the grounds it was prohibited by law.
Justi tried, but Francovich refused to dismantle the wheel, noting his gaming device was no more illegal than the prevalent faro, 21 and craps offerings in town. Also, he threatened that if the police confiscated his wheel, he’d demand all gambling establishments be closed immediately.
Ultimately, the brouhaha among the Wine House’s competitors fizzled, and the wheel remained in place.
* Eli Francovich is a relative of the prominent Reno family of the same name, known in part for its Francovich Holiday Nog and The Grill at Quail Corners restaurant.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons: “Wheel of Fortune” by Forsaken Fotos