Larry Flynt, multimedia tycoon and vocal champion of the First Amendment, unveiled the Hustler Casino in the summer of 2000, providing Southern California with a conveniently located gaming center in the heart of Los Angeles. That the casino was able to open at all seemed unlikely to some observers, considering Flynt’s history of agitating the authorities, and there was concern that he might be denied a license on principle. But true to form, Flynt surprised the naysayers, and last weekend Hustler Casino held its 10th birthday party. The event featured photo ops with the Hustler Girls, an appearance by Flynt himself, and a widely attended celebrity poker tournament.
Among the attendees were Baywatch alum Donna D’Errico, FOX L.A.‘s Mark Thompson, actors Corey Feldman and Tom Everett Scott, and other industry professionals. While the tournament was open to the public and anyone was eligible to win the $10,000 jackpot, the celebrities were playing for their favorite charities. Omarosa, of Apprentice fame, told us that she was competing for Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum. “It takes kids from Compton and teaches them a skill…helps them learn how to fly,” said the entrepreneur and star of the new Donald Trump-helmed series, The Ultimate Merger. “It’s a safe haven for them – keeps them from getting involved with gangs or drugs.”
The casino itself might not be what one would expect from the man considered to be perhaps the most influential figure in the porn industry. The décor is fairly sober – rich wood paneling, chandeliers dripping amber crystals, and cream-colored columns. Save for the gift shop touting some Hustler paraphernalia and the requisite presence of suggestively clad cocktail waitresses, there is no overt presence of the source of Flynt’s vast wealth. The focus at the Hustler Casino is definitely on the gaming. Serious card players will enjoy plenty of excitement at the tables, and even those just starting out will find a welcoming atmosphere, with low buy-ins and complimentary instructional games. Those who dislike the constant din of ululating slot machines and rowdy tourists will be grateful for the quieter, upscale game rooms.
Aside from poker, the casino offers blackjack, pai gow, Carribean Stud, and California Baccarat. But perhaps the most obvious appeal to Angelenos with a gambling itch is the location. Instead of the seemingly endless trek on the barren I-15 out to Vegas, hotel room hassles, and stifling crowds, a ten minute drive down the Harbor freeway from downtown will get you to Gardena and the Hustler Casino. And just like Vegas, it’s open all day, every day.