‘Joe’s Dash’ a highlight reel from security man Dorsey’s remarkable career By John L. Smith, CDC Gaming Reports April 7, 2021 at 8:00 pm Given its history, it’s no surprise the casino industry continues to provide an endless source of fascination for readers. But it’s not all shadowy gangsters and larger-than-life corporate titans. For my money, the best stories always seem to come from behind the scenes and straight from the casino floor. It’s something Joe Dorsey knows plenty about. Joe’s Dash: From Million Dollar Drug Busts to Multi-Million Dollar Collections for Las Vegas Casinos recounts the true-life adventures of the Cleveland-born Dorsey, whose eclectic resume includes service in the U.S. Coast Guard, the San Diego Police Department, and the Nevada Gaming Control Board. As a police detective, he worked closely with the Drug Enforcement Administration and took part in dangerous borderland drug busts. His compatriots arrested heroin rings, and he witnessed the aftermath of the September 1978 crash of PSA Flight 183. He was just getting started. Investigations with the Control Board took him from the Strip and the infamous Stardust skimming investigation to Laughlin and the regulatory scrutiny of the Edgewater on the Colorado River and shady junket representatives in far-flung climes. He eventually moved up to senior agent before moving from the Control Board in 1985 for, as he jokingly called it, “the dark side.” By that, of course, he meant the casino industry. Beginning at the Las Vegas Hilton and hopscotching through the industry, Dorsey helped spot outside and inside cheats and became a trusted marker collector for a range of companies. A candid story well told by Linda Ellis with Dorsey’s guidance, and published by Las Vegas-based Huntington Press, the book not only chronicles Dorsey’s colorful career but also gives an authentic glimpse behind the scenes of the gaming industry and one of its most mysterious and least-publicized elements: high-roller collections. Without exposing gambler identities or trade secrets, Dorsey recounts some of the obstacles he faced when traveling abroad to remind big casino customers that their debts in Las Vegas were well past due. One four-week collections itinerary took him from Las Vegas to San Francisco, then Taiwan, Jakarta, Singapore, Thailand, Osaka, Frankfurt, and Paris before returning to the U.S. Although many trips went off without a hitch, sometimes the stakes were high in more than one way. Dorsey collected seven figures during his hops from the U.S. to Asia, where members and associates of organized crime are rarely far away. In Japan, the Yakuza plays by its own rules and is often unpredictable. Dorsey managed to do his job and return with briefcases full of money and his limbs still attached. He spent much of his gaming career allied with Dennis Gomes, the hard-hitting ex-casino regulator in Nevada and New Jersey who enjoyed a long career in the industry. Gomes died in February 2012 after serving as an executive for then casino tycoons Donald Trump in Atlantic City and Steve Wynn in Las Vegas. Dorsey also worked for International Game Technology. It was Gomes’ stint as the boss of the Tropicana when it was operated by Phoenix-based Aztar Corporation that led to some of Dorsey’s most intriguing and far-flung collections adventures. For some of the intrigue, he didn’t even have to leave the building. As a Trop insider informed him, “We’ve got a lot of crooks in this place.” Some were cleverly concealed. Others were hiding in plain sight. As Dorsey observed, “The Tropicana had had its problems over the decades and had changed hands many times. The previous management was weak, to begin with, and they’d lost control of the casino. Essentially, the inmates were running the asylum. Put another way, a ‘we’re family’ attitude had been taken to extremes. Even as late as the nineties, the Mob had gone home – or to prison, or the cemetery – but the employees hadn’t gotten the memo.” From dice pit toke hustles to sticky-fingered slot personnel, he saw it all and started plugging the holes in the casino’s bottom line. Across the tables, the Trop was hit by cheating teams and marker scammers on a regular basis. Dorsey kept busy. The frequent flyer miles never stopped as Dorsey attempted to collect high-roller markers at a time the Tropicana had a substantial history of catering to wealthy Asian players. Like so many gamblers, some of those once-excellent customers suffered from amnesia when it came time to settle up. His DEA connections and other trusted associates in out-of-the-way places came in handy, but Dorsey was the one doing the traveling. For those casino denizens who marvel at the rise and fall of the Yakuza-connected Japanese high roller Akio Kashiwagi, Dorsey has memories of that era, too. Add to that the love story between Dorsey and his wife Karen, a longtime casino industry veteran, and Joe’s Dash is an entertaining read and a worthy addition to a growing shelf of insightful books on the rapidly changing casino industry. John L. Smith is a longtime Las Vegas columnist and author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @jlnevadasmith.