Tennis

Inside Former Tennis Star Jimmy Connors’ Failed Casino Business

Jimmy Connors is a rebellious tennis legend; he had an astounding career. Many tennis players struggle to keep up with what he achieved in his career. In terms of business, life was not so good for Connors and his brother, John Connors. The brothers, who were once close, now seem to be estranged after a failed casino business.

Jimmy Connors’ tennis career

Jimmy was born on September 2, 1952, in East St. Louis. His grandmother, Bertha Thompson, and mother, Gloria Thompson, were the first to coach him on playing tennis. Jimmy showed interest in playing, and in 1972 he started his career as a tennis player. In 1974, he won U.S. Open, Australian Open, and Wimbledon.

The tennis legend had a great career, and his achievements surpass many tennis players in his era. Jimmy won eight Grand Slam titles, made it to 41 Grand Slam quarters, won 109 pro tournaments, ranked number 1 for 160 consecutive weeks, and ranked in the top-10 for 817 weeks.

Many thought Jimmy was arrogant due to his aggression and temper tantrums. Despite this, it was enjoyable to watch him play. His resilience made it difficult for his opponents to win against him.

What was the relationship between John and Jimmy Connors?

Jimmy Connors plays John McEnroe in 1984 Wimbledon
Jimmy Connors plays John McEnroe in 1984 Wimbledon | Allsport UK/ALLSPORT

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The Connors brothers were close, and they played tennis together. Their family was a family that loved tennis. Together, their mother and grandmother trained the brothers. The family had a tennis court built in the yard, where the boys could train.

The Connors were taken to Jones Park in East St. Louis to continue their training on the concrete ground. John did not take an interest in tennis but opted to enjoy his teenage years. On the other hand, Jimmy took an interest in the game and played professional tennis later in life.

The Connors brothers invest in Argosy Gaming Company

Due to tennis, Jimmy was in the spotlight, while not many knew about his brother. John came to the spotlight in 1991 when he set up a casino known as Alton Belle in 1991. He was seen on TV advertisements as he advertised his casino.

Alton Belle enjoyed a monopoly in Missouri and Illinois, and the profits John was able to generate from the casino was invested in the parent company (Argosy Gaming Company). The Connors had the same amount of shares in the company.

Each brother had about $70 million worth of shares. Unfortunately, the stock prices of the companies fell at a high rate. The brothers did not want to speak about the story of the falling of the company. According to Questia, some friends who did not want to be identified say that the brothers’ relationship has gone sour since the incident.

Jimmy Connors’ casino burned down

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Jimmy Connors owned Alystra casino in the year 2000. Since he took ownership of the casino, it had been locked down and had been a home for the homeless. In 2008, the house burned down, and it was not clear what caused the fire.

The Henderson officials wondered how to get rid of the casino because its location was not 5000 feet away from homes, schools, and churches, which was a requirement by an ordinance passed in 2007.  The ordinance made the casino not to be attractive to future investors.

It seems that Jimmy did not achieve the same success in the casino business as he had managed to acquire during his tennis profession. Jimmy has been doing other things other than setting up casinos, and one major thing is writing books. He has written Jimmy Connors: How to Play Tougher Tennis (1986) and a memoir (The Outsider). It is clear that Connors is a legend, but not in running a casino business.