Senior Reporter

Strip club operator, pornographer, magazine magnate, First Amendment standard bearer Larry Flynt has quite a resume. Now, the controversial publisher of Hustler magazine is adding yet another colorful job title to the list casino impresario.

Flynt recently purchased a bankrupt Gardena card room, the El Dorado Club, for $8 million, and plans a splashy grand opening for the facility in about eight months, after some $30 million in renovations.

As one of the country's leading high-stakes card players, he is no stranger to gambling. And he's hired the necessary talent the club's general manager, Harry Drake, has years of experience running poker rooms in Las Vegas.

Sitting in a wheelchair behind an enormous dark wood desk at his Beverly Hills office, Flynt lit a cigar and spoke about his plans for the El Dorado Club and his vision for the future of casino gambling in Los Angeles.

Question: Why are you buying the El Dorado Club?

Answer: I've been a gambler all my life. I enjoy it very much, and I feel that I can add something to it by opening a casino. If Joe Blow opens a casino, it's not news. But when I open one, it will be big news and it will attract a lot of customers. But it's not going to be a run-of-the-mill casino. We're putting about $30 million into this. It's going to be the nicest one in the county.

Q: How will it be different from what already is here?

A: Basically, we're going to try and do everything better. I've been to Hollywood Park, and I've visited the Normandie Casino and the Bicycle Club just to get an idea of what they're like; decor-wise, they fall well short of what I want to accomplish. My casino will look more like some of the casinos you see in Vegas. The motif will be sort of a Victorian style. We're going to put a heavy emphasis on having better food than our competitors. People will want to play there.

I don't think the clubs have tapped into the L.A. market like they should have, in terms of a formidable advertising campaign. In a sense, buying the club is a gamble for me, but it's a risk that I'm willing to take.

Q: You're a big gambler yourself. Are you doing this for fun, or do you think you can make some real money at this?


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