Rolling along

As my regular readers know, writing Roll the Bones has been taking up most of my time for the past few months. I’ve shared a few of the insights I’ve learned, but for the most part I’ve kept the project under wraps.

Today I reached a significant milestone, so I’m making an announcement: I’m two-thirds done the first draft. I’ve finished my chapters on ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and early modern gambling, gambling in the British empire, 19th century European spa gambling, and Monte Carlo.

What’s left, you might wonder? Only, as Borat might say, the U S and A. In other words, I’ve got three chapters in which to condense the history of gambling in America (including, as things stand now, one whole chapter on Nevada gambling history). Once I finish that, I have the 12th and final chapter–about the international expansion of gambling in the 20th and 21st centuries–and then I am onto my next project.

Check out the Roll the Bones page to learn more about my progress, and how you can help.

Gambling for change

I know that they say politics makes strange bedfellows, but this is still pretty unusual. A liberal Canadian political website whose domain name has expired has become an online casino, so to speak.
Continue reading Gambling for change

VIP rooms

One of the things that struck me in Macau casinos was the prevalence of private VIP salons. Leased by junket operators, they give a share of profits to the casino but seem to be independently run. At last, there’s something in print that explains the phenomenon.
Continue reading VIP rooms

Inside Wynn Las Vegas

Wynn Las Vegas is in a media blackout–no one is talking about its details in anticipation of its opening in less than a month. But anyone with a web browser can see thisWynn Las Vegas property map, which might pique your interest.

No disgrace

I just couldn’t pass up this quote. Is xenophobia alive and well in Macau, or is A casino magnate just trying to articulate his vision for his company’s continued dominance?

“We are Chinese and we will not be disgraced. We will not lose to the intruders.”
–Stanley Ho

This was in an interesting story (with an opening historical misstatement) called Macau may trump Vegas (28-03-2005).

Macau nightlife

This week, I was talking to a reporter about the comparative nightlife of Macau and Singapore (I actually was taken to this place in Singapore). I struggled for words to tactfully explain what appeared to be the rampant prostitution in both cities. Singapore did a much better job of containing aggressively solicitous prostitutes to the nightclubs, while in Macau they seemed to rule the streets. At last, I have found a journalistic treatment of this phenomenon.
Continue reading Macau nightlife

Too involved in research

Poring through an old history of Monaco in my research for Roll the Bones, I learned that Carnegie’s Diplodocus was discovered during the excavations for a rail line.

I found this mildly interesting. What a 19th century industrialist has to do with a prehistoric dinosaur, and why the long-necked creature was messing around near Monaco, I’ll leave to your imagination.

I’ve always thought that being a diplodocus would be kind of a mixed blessing. Sure, you’ve got the long neck and everything, but would anyone take you seriously with a name like that? He is a goofy-looking fellow though, isn’t he?

Two great headlines

I’m not about to make light of problem or illegal gambling, but each of these headlines stuck me as oddly humorous:

Gambling Addicts Prepare For Casino
Tough war against gambling virus

I thought the first story might be an exercise in cynicism, and was surprised that what the editor meant to say was that gambling opponents were gearing up to fight a casino proposal.
I honestly thought the second story would be about some new computer virus embedded in a gaming download. Come to find out it’s just about the National People’s Congress continuing fight against illegal Chinese gambling.

An impressive beast

A longtime reader sent this one to me, and, since I seem to have a special weakness for strange animal stories (e.g., the police nemesis turkey, Philadelphia fried chicken restaurant deer, and the unforgettable mystery mammal), I’m going to share what I’ve learned about the pride of Alapaha, Georgia: Hogzilla.
Continue reading An impressive beast

Birthday wishes!

While browsing Harrah’s website, I decided to sign up to get email updates about properties. I already get them from most casino companies, and I figured that it might be a good idea to do the same for the soon-to-be world’s largest. I gave my email, the name of “UNLV Special Collections, and a birthdate sometime in March 1957 (the year the university was “born”).

So imagine my delight this morning when I got an email offering a Happy Birthday From Harrah’s.

Continue reading Birthday wishes!