On life in Las Vegas, dealing and playing poker, and the inexplicability of it all..........
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Slot tokens galore
Monday, September 01, 2008
A good read and something to think about.....
The following appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. I hope every bean-counter in every Nevada casino reads it and takes it to heart.
Here's the link to the story. http://www.lvrj.com/opinion/27714219.html I've copied and pasted it below so you don't need to follow the link........
Aug. 31, 2008 Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal FROM OUR READERS: Interaction, winning give way to gadgets, losing Virtual technologies cater to the self-absorbed, who can already gamble in isolation anywhere By ALFRED RUNTE SPECIAL TO THE REVIEW-JOURNAL
During a stopover in Reno 25 years ago, my wife and I discovered Nevada-style gambling -- and absolutely loved it.
Just as suddenly, on a summer trip to Las Vegas and Laughlin, we admitted the thrill is gone. Since when did the gaming industry rob Nevada of its uniqueness, conspiring to remake its casinos into video arcades?
Most recently, the Excalibur in Las Vegas brags about replacing its live poker room with electronic poker tables. Again, what happened to the state that believed in character -- the state that made gambling real?
In the old days, even when the games were "electronic," at least the money they paid was real. Certainly, if the sound and feel of money were not important, why does every ticket machine go "clink! clink!"
Cutting labor costs would appear to be the hidden agenda, no matter the protests about sanitation and dirty hands. At the Tropicana Express in Laughlin, we were told that players actually prefer a televised dealer to someone live.
If so, Nevada is in serious trouble; a casino anywhere can give us that. Still, the more likely aim is to shrink the payout -- and the payroll -- while attracting new players content to lose. Note the number of casinos filled with younger players just pushing buttons to watch cartoons.
The challenge is convincing my generation -- people over 55 -- that virtual reality is the same as winning. Our generation, still with three-quarters of the nation's discretionary income, remains Nevada's largest and most loyal market. Forget all the nonsense about being diverted with light shows and theme parks. Our notion of being entertained is still to win -- and to hear it when others do.
When playing slots, we listen for the money hitting the pan. In the restaurant, we want to enjoy live keno with our meal. The fact that a slot machine can replace a keno runner is just another reminder that Nevada is replacing us.
For the record, our generation still likes people. To us, a casino without employees is a morgue. Every time the old machines ran out of money, you got to meet the staff. That keno runner did more than work for the casino. She was also an ambassador of good will.
This is also to explain why older players gravitate to progressive jackpots, especially when playing slots. Why play in a casino if it is not a community, each player driving up everyone's chances to win big?
Gradually, banks of progressive machines have been eliminated -- or diluted by offering multiple games. No longer do the people next to you have a stake in your play, or you a stake in theirs.
Truly, one gets the feeling that Nevada has been taken over by hyperactive teenagers with BlackBerrys stuck to their brains. The point again about inventing games that encourage players to be self-absorbed is that gambling in Nevada becomes irrelevant.
Indeed, if ever the industry should implode, too many mindless changes will be the reason. The whole point of returning to a casino in the first place is to find the community of players and workers -- and luck -- you left behind. Constantly changing the floor of the casino and reducing the staff defies every definition of luck and good business sense. Sure, we now get a player's card and an extra comp or two. But that prevents anyone from learning our names.
Those of us living outside Nevada also have to suffer the airlines and the rising price of gasoline. In the past, Nevada stayed competitive -- and kept us coming -- by offering what could not be had anywhere else.
Although the competition has increased, sending home more losers is no business plan. Nevada would still be better advised to preserve its uniqueness against change proposed for the sake of change.
Granted, some changes are inevitable, and no one can win every time. However, forfeiting character for virtual reality is not progressive change. It is the loss of that Nevada, the real Nevada, that now threatens to keep us -- and the nation -- at home.
Alfred Runte, an environmental historian specializing in the American West, lives in Seattle, where in 2005 he ran for mayor. His latest book is "Allies of the Earth: Railroads and the Soul of Preservation" (Truman State University Press).