Keystone slots

Now that the governor has signed the slots bill, it looks like the machines are coming, paving the way for the creation of a massive slot industry in Pennsylvania. From ABCnews:

Gov. Ed Rendell signed laws on Monday authorizing 61,000 slot machines in Pennsylvania more than any other state except Nevada and using most of the state’s share to pay for a $1 billion cut in property taxes a year.
Revenue from the slot machines, which would be located at 14 sites, including seven horse tracks, would be used to cut property taxes by an average 20 percent.

Rendell, a Democrat who had made slots-for-tax-relief the centerpiece of his 2002 election campaign, signed the bills at Philadelphia Park, the thoroughbred track that produced Kentucky Derby-winner Smarty Jones.

“It isn’t a panacea, but it certainly isn’t the demon it’s been made out to be,” Rendell said. “It’s a good, significant step on the road to property-tax relief.”

Opponents of the slots bill predict a proliferation of crime, gambling addiction and other social ills. They complained that the bill was crafted in secret by a handful of party leaders and lacks adequate safeguards against corruption and conflicts of interest among members of the state panel that would oversee the slots parlors.

Proponents said the law would allow the state to recapture much of the money Pennsylvanians pour into slot machines in neighboring states and help revive the state’s horse racing industry.

The property tax reduction will not be immediate. Officials say the initial relief would be deferred until at least 2006 to allow time for the slots parlors to obtain licenses and gear up.

Of the roughly $3 billion a year slots are expected to generate, the licensees would keep 48 percent, the state would get 34 percent and the rest would be divided among the equine industry, public construction projects, and counties and municipalities in which slots parlors are located.

Pennsylvania Governor OKs Gambling Bill

That is a lot of slot machines. This is precisely why Atlantic City should have spent the past few years reinventing itself as a destination. They have made great progress along these lines, but haven’t quite shaken the quarter slot parlor stigma, at least in the mainstream media.

This expansion of slots could have far-reaching effects from Maryland to Ohio, and possibly beyond.

Sevened out?

People like reality TV, and people like Vegas. So, the plan seems to be, let’s keep on combining the two until there is nothing else left on television. For good measure, throw in Paris Hilton’s dad, millionaires, and high stakes gambling. Incredibly, this is the story from Reality TV World:

According to Daily Variety, Rick Hilton, the Hilton Hotels heir better known as the father of “celebutantes” Paris and Nicky Hilton, is preparing a reality-competition show focused on gambling entitled 777. The show will feature seven Las Vegas high-rollers who each ante up $1 million of their own cash to play, with the winner walking off with the entire $7 million pot.

Filming for the show would take place over seven days, with the contestants sharing a suite and engaging in several games of chance overseen by 777’s resident “pit boss.” The project is currently being pitched to networks, although it has yet to find a home.

The show came together as Rick Hilton talked to Jason Hervey, who is a producer (along with Endemol USA) of Rick’s wife Kathy’s upcoming NBC reality show, The Good Life. Hervey, part of Bischoff-Hervey Entertainment, connected Rick with producer Scott Sternberg (Rock & Roll Jeopardy), who was looking to make a Vegas show, and 777 was the result.

Sternberg says that he has been on the prowl for “whales” willing to ante up $1 million in return for (i) the publicity of reality TV and (ii) the chance to win $6 million. We note that this may be difficult, since they would be the real financiers of the show, but they aren’t being cut in on any part of the production payments.

Paris Hilton’s father Rick launches gambling reality-competition show ‘777’

The problem with this is that TV already has a reality show where people compete for a $5 million prize–this year’s World Series of Poker. It would be better to see a “reality” show about seven millionaires who blow all of their money gambling and then have to take jobs at a casino to make ends meet. Or not. All I know is that if you’ve got any kind of reality TV idea connected to gambling, this is your moment.

News of the inane

I love news stories that aren’t news stories. I flipped on the TV this morning and saw that a local station had gone through the trouble of sending a crew out to the freeway to interview a police official who had some startling news: With more people driving and more cars on the road, there might be more accidents this weekend. You think?

Then I flipped over to the national all-news networks, and it wasn’t much better. Three channels devoted time this morning to talking about the lottery. With our country currently involved in two wars, national elections a few months off, and dozens of other major issues, the freaking lottery was a news story.

Here’s the print version, from the Albany Times-Union:

George Frany Jr. hasn’t bought his ticket yet. But have no doubts, he will.
A lottery skeptic, Frany knows better than anyone that his chances of winning $290 million in tonight’s Mega Millions jackpot aren’t good. Since the jackpot hit $200 million, he’s seen hundreds of hopeful multimillionaires walk through his convenience store door to dish out as much as $50 on tickets and strategically fill in the little numbered boxes with parents’ birthdays and children’s ages.

“It’s strange. At $3 million, people will say, ‘I’m not going to bother,’ ” said Frany, owner of a Mobil gas station on Delaware Avenue. “But now their odds are five times worse because the tickets are so hot.”

From behind his convenience store counter, it’s easy for Frany to shake his head at the unlikely dreams of his customers.

But it’s hard to ignore the scrolling marquee on his cash register that, in flashing multicolored figures, repeatedly reminds everyone who passes that they could win “$290 million” and encourages them to “Play Now!!”

So Frany’s buying his Mega Millions ticket today. Though barely of legal age, 18-year-old George Frany III has already purchased $10 worth using the $7 he won when he matched three numbers in the $210 million jackpot.

With 400,000 Mega Millions tickets selling per hour in New York alone, the Franys are far from alone in their guilty pleasure. The odds of winning today’s jackpot are 1 in 135,145,920.

For a shot at $290M, you bet they’re irrational

It’s funny that, for years, anti-gamblers attacked the numbers as the most pernicious form of gambling, with the worst odds. Now that state governments profit from it, it’s impossible to make it through breakfast without listening to “newscasters” basically promoting the lottery.

I wouldn’t dwell on this, but the line between news and stupid is getting very blurry. One news network actually ran an extended piece on, “What would you do with $300 million.” Gee, let me think…buy stuff? How is this a news story? Of course, before the lottery, everyone will talk about all of the charitable work they will do, because they’re trying to curry divine or karmic favor (just like people heading into casinos, who need a little luck, are usually more polite than those heading out). But I guarantee that most people think “car, boat, expensive electronics.”

Of course, what I would do with the money would be a legitimate news story–I’d buy the Boardwalk casino and turn it into a living carnival of the absurd.
clown on the Strip
If I played the lottery and won, this might be mine.

I don’t know exactly what I would do with the property (besides retaining the evil clown facade), but isn’t it fun to dream? I wouldn’t dream of taking up bandwidth with musings like these, but apparently dreamy speculation is considered hard news today.

Best Vegas Story…

I’ve read in a newspaper in a while. While I’m quick to pounce on what I perceive as uninspired or erroneous reporting (check out USA 5 minutes ago or Dogs not playing poker), I’m also the first to recognize excellence.
The piece in your question concerns a lesser-known Las Vegas casino, the Western. Adam Goldman, an AP writer whose work has not gone unnoticed here, has wriiten a real gem about that casino. Here’s a sample, from the LV SUN:

On a stretch of despair Endorsements that tourists in Las Vegas seldom see, the Western Hotel-Casino stands out as a beacon for the broke and nearly broken.

With their crumpled dollars and gloomy gait, they stumble in off Fremont Street through the wide, doorless entrance, cheap nfl jerseys beckoned by the sounds of penny slot Scalp machines and cheap table games.

The Western is a poor man’s dream, a downtown casino where sad Las Vegas cliches collide.

“This is the underbelly of Vegas,” said 28-year-old Byron Hilton, who was playing $2 blackjack sinas’ on a recent Friday night. “This is not the Strip.”

There is no uniformed valet parking Porsches here. Instead they come on foot, in beat-up cars and wobbly bicycles. For many, it’s been a short journey to the Western.

The boxy structure is planted among a slew of low-income houses and budget motels — the Downtowner, the Uptown and the incongruous Lucky. The Western feeds from one of the city’s bleakest ZIP codes, stained by high poverty and unemployment rates.

Inside they gamble, pouring nickels and quarters down Music the throats of always hungry machines.

The roulette table sees an occasional wholesale nfl jerseys gambler, but the blackjack tables — marred by cigarette burns and beer stains — get plenty of action at minimum $1, $2 and $5 bets.

“You can’t win no money here,” said 38-year-old Ace, who has frequented the Western since 1995, the same year he said he “pulled this a job” in Reno, and had to get out of town “real Rock, quick.”

In the early morning weekend hours, the smoke hangs in the air like a veil, a giant gray cloud that wraps itself around the customers. The booze is working its sleepy magic.

Gritty Western casino survives in ‘the underbelly’ of Las Vegas

Seriously, this deserves better than a daily newspaper–I could definitely see it expanded in the New Yorker. This is about breeding a thousand times better than most of the casino wholesale nfl jerseys stories running today. Click through and read the entire story–you will be glad you did.

For some visuals, I have a photo I took of the area around the Western a while ago:
East Fremont
It isn’t much, but you get the idea.
This is the Vegas that you won’t see on reality TV, but these stories are just as important as those of high rollers, vacationing frat boys, and ambitious executives.

Out of this world?

At the risk of being self-aggrandizing, I’ve got to put this in here. A while ago, I spoke with a Texas reporter about a company that claims to have developed a system to add pheromones to ventilation systems in stores and casinos. Islamic These pheromones would, allegedly, cause people to spent/gamble more. From the Galveston County Daily News:

Enhanced Air’s Director of Development Nigel Malkin said the company’s product, Commercaire, makes consumers feel comfortable and secure so they shop longer and spend more.

Ethicists at the University of Texas Medical Branch and the University of Houston Clear Lake said the practice is offensive if consumers aren’t told the system Easy is in use, and one of the country’s leading experts in pheromone research questioned the validity of the company’s scientific claims.

But Enhanced Air promises big sales boosts and spiking customer loyalty. The compound doesn’t cause consumers to get into a spending frenzy so much as it causes them to feel more at ease in an environment and more receptive to sales messages, said Malkin.

Malkin claimed that he originally developed the product for “a Las Vegas casino,” and the reporter asked me about this possibility. I was Red predictably quite skeptical, pointing out that casinos go to great lengths to keep air clean. But I couldn’t stop there–I had to go for broke:

Manipulating gamblers’ behavior surreptitiously would pose too great a risk for a public relations nightmare, Schwartz said.

Something like that would seem so boldly predatory it would raise that issue, do you want to take all their money?” he said.

“Schwartz also contends that rumors of casinos pumping oxygen through the vents to keep players awake at night is nothing more than urban legend. cheap nba jerseys He said the idea that a casino wholesale nfl jerseys would infuse a ventilation system with a chemical, Welcome even an organic one, was hard to believe.

“They giornata work pretty hard to cheap nba jerseys try мире. to keep the air as clean as possible,” Schwartz said. “But who knows, there could be a giant alien base under the Strip.”
Company claims pheromones boost retail sales

That’s right, a “casino expert” finally said in print what many had suspected for years–that the real alien presence in Las Vegas is not out at Area cheap mlb jerseys 51, but wholesale mlb jerseys in a subterranean base underneath the Strip. I’ve always said that if I didn’t have fun at my job, I wouldn’t do it, and here’s proof. I obviously didn’t literally mean that I thought aliens were at work, but it’s just as ridiculous as other stories I hear.

Anyway, it’s all in a day’s work.

Welcome to Vegas, enjoy your stay

Getting the VIP van treatment is one of the best things about Las Vegas. Ornate hotels surround their guests with everything they desire. Of course, if you are already a celebrity, it must be that much richer, right?
Being part of a major awards show must be an absolute thrill, but nothing compared to the joys of returning to your room all-inclusive to find your from personal possessions have been rifled through and/or thefted. The genie of the Aladdin apparently made more than things like casino revenue and room rates vanish, as two guests of the Radio Music Awards there discovered:

Nelly and Michelle Branch Burglarized in Las Vegas: “LAS VEGAS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Oct. 28, 2003–Last night, multi-platinum recording artists Nelly (Cornell Haynes) and Michelle Branch’s hotel rooms at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas were burglarized while they attended the wholesale MLB jerseys Radio Music Awards. Mr. Haynes claims that over $1 million dollars worth of jewelry was taken from his room while Ms. Branch claims that computer equipment was stolen from her room. Reports have been wholesale jerseys filed with the cheap nba jerseys local police department and a Me-Soluziones police investigation is currently under way. “

How did this probably happen? The best guest is a simple push-door theft. Often, when guests leave their hotel wholesale MLB jerseys room, air pressure prevents the door from closing completely. It is no secret that groups of push-door theives have been working the Strip for years–in fact, Metro tries their best to educate visitors about the problem.

This is great news for people who are looking for a new laptop or some bling and don’t want to pay retail, but very Strip bad for hotel guests who happen to value Las their personal property. Don’t let push-door theft happen to you–make absolutely sure the door is closed behind you.

Red Rock, Strip West?

I had to work a Red Rock West reference in there. cheap jerseys There is some debate over Station Casinos’ planned Red Rock Station casino at the 215 and Charleston Blvd, which would feature a 300-foot hotel tower. From theLas Vegas SUN:

Station conducted a community meeting at D’Vorre and Hal Ober Elementary School to try to win more public support for the project. Attendees examined a series of photos, drawings and maps. Station’s representatives answered questions.

There appeared to be more opponents than supporters at the meeting, but a true count was difficult because hundreds of people wandered in and out of the meeting. Many said they were concerned about Cumbria the height, 300 feet, cheap jerseys of one of the proposed towers, and dozens wore stickers that said, “Don’t Bring the Strip to Red Rock.”

The casino would be a little more than five miles from Red Rock National Conservation Area’s visitors center, and would not be visible from there, casino officials said….

“Station should learn to play by the rules, which allow a 100-foot casino,” said Glen Arnodo, political director for the Culinary Workers Union, wholesale jerseys which is fighting the proposed casino.

“It’s a bad idea to put a Strip-sized casino in a neighborhood, especially next to Red Rock Canyon,” Arnodo said.

The union, working with the Sierra Club, mailed 16,000 color pamphlets to area residents and produced the anti-casino Wholesale Elite Jerseys stickers that were handed out Tuesday night. Arnodo said the union is interested because Red Rock is a natural treasure that needs to be protected.

But Station Casinos Way Vice President of Corporate and Government Relations Lesley Pittman said the union management has ulterior motives for fighting the project: Station Casinos are non-union shops; its employees don’t belong to the union.


It’s not surprising at all the the union is against the plan. I have the feeling that if Station was building a charity hospital, the union would block it, given that Station is non-union. To be fair, wholesale nfl jerseys Station would probably block anything that would benefit the union, as well.

In any event, there are legitimate views on both sides, and About this debate highlights the “development vs. environment” discussion that increasingly takes place when new projects are proposed.