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February 21, 2018

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Garth Brooks vs. Tim McGraw in L.V.? Phil Ruffin’s $20 million mansion


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Tim McGraw performs at The Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel on June 7, 2011.

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We start out the week with Wicked Whispers & Racy Rumors! Here are seven exclusive rumblings that just have to be reported:

GARTH GETS COMPETITION? It will probably be denied and dismissed as speculation, and I will be under fire for yet another supposed exclusive. But are country king and queen Tim McGraw and Faith Hill about to sign contracts to topple their pal Garth Brooks from his lofty reign on the Strip? I am hearing very serious information that they’ll sign on for a series of weekend concerts from November to April to be in competition with Garth.

The deal would be for concerts in an 1,800-seat theater within a guitar pick’s throw of Steve Wynn’s Encore Theater where Garth headlines. It’s so close to being signed that Tim and Faith have scrapped plans to go out on tour together so they can enjoy a residency here. It can’t start sooner because Tim is touring with Kenny Chesney this summer.

$20 MILLION MANSE: Here’s another blockbuster exclusive: The Las Vegas mega-compound was listed for $37.5 million, and billionaire Prince Jefri of Brunei let Michael Jackson rent it for a while. Then the scandal-ridden royal known as “The Prince Who Blew Through Billions” dropped the price on the ranch to $25 million. Now I am reliably hearing that Treasure Island mogul Phil Ruffin snapped up the 16-acre lot and 92 rooms that cost $60 million to build -- for $20 million.

Its statistics are mindboggling: 92 rooms with 29 bedrooms and 42 bathrooms on the property. The main home alone is 37,359 square feet with 9 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms. The five smaller homes on the property are for guests, family and staff; the acreage also includes tennis courts, three swimming pools and a garage large enough for 30 vehicles. The last time Prince Jefri paid any property taxes was back in 2007 -- just shy of half a million bucks. I am reliably told that construction work on the Ruffin remodel has started.

DUKING OUT DEALS: Is boxing about to blow up at yet another Strip hotel to boost gaming? I’ve reliably learned that a well-heeled promoter with cable TV properties who once partnered with Don King has been researching our casino properties to stage big-name fights. Apparently the deal has landed on center Strip, and contracts are being worked on for bouts that can be televised on his outlets.

Meantime, one leading lady who had looked at the property to purchase outright has now backed away from that deal because another buyer willing to put a $1.7 billion offer on the table is now in the lead.

BIG MONEY BET: There’s a big undercurrent about huge bets a well-known Las Vegas gambler placed on the L.A. Clippers against the Memphis Grizzlies in the first-round NBA playoff game Sunday night. The VIP reportedly wagered $1.8 million across various bets. The Clippers were behind 21 in the 3rd quarter but went on to win the game 99-98. Just what could that win be worth?!

DONNY & MARIE TO ALL-STARS DANCE? Is Season 15 of “Dancing With the Stars” to be an all-star contest with winners and runners-up competing to find the best of them all? It means that our Flamingo headliners Donny and Marie Osmond could be called to dance again along with Las Vegas regulars Mario Lopez and current host Brooke Burke Charvet.

Our Rio headliner magician Penn Jillette competed in Season 6. ABC has not confirmed or denied the whispers of an all-star season. Meantime, ex-contestants Joey Fatone, Carson Kressley, Tia Carrere and others are performing in “Dancing With the Stars: Live in Las Vegas” at the Tropicana.

ULTRA TAKEOVER: Is a hotel resort’s ultra lounge operated under the name of a colorful figure about to close so it can be taken over by a nightlife group who believes that the space complements its existing properties?

TV JUDGES: Can we expect Howard Stern, Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne to slip into town quietly this week to judge contestants for episodes of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent”? In past seasons, the judging has been under wraps at Planet Hollywood’s Theater for the Performing Arts.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

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