Harold Moret learned to play dominoes from his grandfather. The last memory he has of them together is playing the game on a food tray at his grandfather’s hospital bed.
George Stelly died when Moret was 14, but he put his grandson on the path to success by sharing this passion for an old-fashioned tile-based game that’s said to have originated in China in the 12th Century.
Moret, now 42, is taking dominoes to a new level and different audience. He is the multi-talented inventor of a table game called Casino Dominoes that has passed its trial run and is officially on the floor at the Plaza Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas. It’s expected to be picked up by more casinos in the near future. “I think my grandfather would be very proud that I took the knowledge he gave me and did something with it,” said Moret, believed to be the first African-American to invent a game that’s made it to a casino floor. “Dominoes is played in Cuba, played in the Caribbean, played all over the world. It’s a cultural experience, but no one had ever tapped into the casino industry.”
They have now and Moret isn’t stopping here. He’s been promoting traditional dominoes tournaments around the country in recent years through the Universal Domino League, and he expects to unveil a dominoes slot machine and additional digital applications sometime in 2019.
“Everything dominoes,” he said.
Moret grew up in the Los Angeles and admits to having “behavioral problems” that led to his math skills, which helped him invent the game, often being overlooked when he was younger.
He said he was an “active kid” who got bored quickly and would start “dancing around the classroom.”
“Teachers didn’t like that,” Moret said.
Despite having an opportunity to play college football, Moret said he made a commitment to the music industry following high school when he met Dr. Dre, who signed him to a deal with Aftermath Entertainment.
Moret said he spent three years with Aftermath, producing records with the likes of Dre and Eminem, before breaking out independently. He’s been a rapper (“Floss P”) who was most popular in South Korea and he’s also scored the background music for movies such as Training Day.
“Music is in me,” Moret said. “The culture of hip-hop and/or rap is in my soul.”
So is this fascination with dominoes.
Moret’s career turned a few years ago when he read a magazine story about a 21-year-old UNLV student, Hien Nguyen, selling the casino game she’d invented to Konami Gaming.
It had been two decades since he had been in school, but Moret decided it was time to go back. He signed up for UNLV’s Gaming Innovation Program. Dr. Mark Yoseloff, the program’s founder, became Moret’s mentor. Yoseloff is the former CEO of Shuffle Master and holds more than 100 patents in gaming technology. Another professor, Daniel Sahl, also played an important role in Moret’s development.
“He worked with me hand in hand to make this game what it is,” Moret said. “I had the formula. He worked out the pay tables with me, a lot of things to really make this game click.”
Moret got the break he needed a couple months ago when the Plaza took on the trial run. Casino Dominoes is considered similar to three-card poker but with specialized domino cards. Players are dealt three cards plus a connector card. The objective is to match the domino cards to the connector card while using standard domino rules.