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Legendary sports bettor’s home listed for $680K

Updated January 4, 2021 - 11:19 pm

The family of the late legendary Las Vegas sports bettor Lem Banker has put his longtime home on the market.

The home at 216 Campbell Drive sits on a half-acre lot in Rancho Nevada Estates and is priced at $680,000. It’s listed by Diane Varney, global luxury property specialist with Coldwell Banker Premier Realty. Banker died of natural causes in November at the age of 93.

Banker was the first and only owner of the one-story four-bedroom home, which measures 3,584 square feet and was built in 1967. It’s a homage to that era of midcentury ranch-style homes in a historic district with sunlit primary suite skylights, a grand brick fireplace, circular driveway and signature palm trees. It has a lap-size pool in the backyard.

“What is wonderful about this house is it has a huge master bathroom suite with two skylights above the jetted tub and vanity area,” Varney said. “Back in the 1960s we had these skylights over our bathroom areas that allowed for indoor atrium plant feeling. It’s not unusual to see this decor under skylights in that era of homes. It’s a signature of midcentury homes in Las Vegas.”

A highlight of the home is the former garage, which long ago converted into a bar area with parquet flooring, brick accent and arched windows. Banker used it as an entertainment area to host guests and watch sports and in later years used it for working out, Varney said.

“It was an entertainment room and place to meet with friends and have a cocktail and talk sports,” Varney said. “It fitted the needs of his lifestyle, and it had a separate entrance door. You could have people come straight into this lounge-style entertainment room with a full bar setup the length of the house and soda machine. The circular driveway can easily accommodate a dozen cars.”

The home has a formal living room, formal dining room and great room off the kitchen with a wood-burning brick fireplace. Wood-burning fireplaces aren’t allowed in today’s new homes, which makes it a rare find, Varney said.

The home includes a master suite and three other bedrooms.

The backyard besides the lap-style pool has mature landscaping, lush vegetation, grass, rose gardens, statues and palm trees more than a half-century old, Varney said.

Banker’s daughter, Blaine, a longtime friend of Varney, put the home on the market. Banker’s wife, Debbie, died nine years ago. An estate sale was recently held to sell the belongings inside it before the home being listed.

“The home had a lot of sports memorabilia and book collections and things in his life that he was interested in,” Varney said. “He was not only interested in sports and betting but health. He had a lot of items from a lot of boxers. He had Joe Louis’ gloves. He had menus from celebrations, dice from casinos and what one would collect from a lifetime of being in Las Vegas.”

Banker had a great love for animals, and in preparing the house for sale his family donated the linens, clothes, blankets and other items to a no-kill animal shelter so his legacy could continue for animals and pets.

Varney said interest in purchasing in the historic district remains strong, and there are many people who want homes on larger lots that are more secluded than what they can find in Las Vegas during the COVID-19 era. This home sits on a wide street and is secluded, she said.

“All homes are in very high demand right now,” Varney said. “The entire market is moving, but the historic district is in strong demand because it’s a limited supply. It’s very hard to find a half-acre lot, and you can’t find out this close to the city and the Strip. It’s only vintage homes.”

Every type of buyer is interested in historic homes, Varney said. There is even more interest, however, from people who already live there who are looking to buy more.

“Many people in these communities own more than one home because they know how special they are,” Varney said. “They like the area. They like the landscaping. They like the guard gates and understand the value. We have a lot of designers who like to get their hands on these homes and preserve the historical quality but bring them up to modern standards. It’s a beautiful palette for someone’s vision.”

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