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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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Hard Hits

12 October 2001

Gaming was already suffering in August. The Nevada Gaming Control Board released the figures and my own area, Northern Nevada, was down 18% over the past year's figures. I still haven't figured out the best way to look at it... Let's see... if the house win is down, doesn't that translate to us winning more?

Now, we have September 11 and the after-effects to worry about. No doubt, less people are wanting to fly these days... even with record-low airfares... and then there is the percentage that just said screw it... the ones now suddenly interested in online gaming... and the ones who just want to stay closer to home.... Which appears, by the visuals... looking at the Jackson Rancheria Tribal casino down in Jackson, CA... to be massive numbers of people. I can visit the casinos in Tahoe, find lots of vacant space... and when it comes to Jackson? Well, first thought is that they need to expand... again. Try wall-to-wall people, happily pursuing jackpots. I keep telling those who market Lake Tahoe that they have to compete. They can't cut everything, and they can't stop anything... but they could compete. But, I guess... to compete... one must spend money.... and invest with faith. That, apparently is lacking on my home front.

Harrah's Lake Tahoe has begun remodeling.... it is noticeably different.... the slot area from the hotel lobby all the way down to the front "Pony Express" entrance is walled off.... yes, the damnable moving walls have returned.... but can't knock them after the fantastic job they did last year on the other side of the casino. They also laid off 69 full-time dealers.... but according to them, it should have been done a long time ago. Looking at the pits... it doesn't look like anybody is running short because of it. Harveys, well, let's just say it still looks the same. I, along with many others, wish they would start making visual changes at Harveys.... and the reports still come back as long waits for slot fills. I would think things will change as Harrah's begins to "FOCUS" (train) their newly acquired employees. The first few sessions have taken place.... but there are going to be a whole bunch of procedures, and customer treatment issues addressed. Harveys... according to this gambler.... just never really was on the ball on a lot of guest issues and concerns. They have the best slot club.... and a big casino. There still is a whole lot of work to be done to make it capable of being a Harrah's.

The Horizon added a Starbucks to their casino floor. I would have been all for it. Would have been happy on many counts... IF.... The head boss hadn't told me that his own casino had crappy service... when they didn't.... until he said it, and the Starbucks was being built.... and yes... cuts to services insured the words rang true.... And IF the Starbucks had retained control.... of the hiring... of the operations... but I see that the Horizon is doing the hiring... which means it will ultimately be about as friendly and as fun a place as the Starbucks that went into our local Safeway supermarket. I like to tip for services.... and like to have the quality and service associated with the "REAL" Starbucks.... the ones they own and operate. At the grocery store.... we can't tip. Not allowed.... something about people maybe thinking they would have to graciously tip the grocery baggers... Now, presumably the casino version will allow tips.... I just don't like watching certain employees suffer.... the cocktail waitresses will lose a lot of tips.... and reportedly some have been cut back or laid off. Sorry Horizon.... can't go on a Starbucks. That, and the timeshare employees two steps inside the entrance.... Wow.... talk about high-pressure carnival barkers.... a group called "Fairfield".... Wouldn't want the Horizon to take the full brunt of the blame for having them.... they all have them or have had them. Even Harrah's has this group of insulting carnies barking at their guests. I think the casinos must get zillions.... money has to be the only reason that they would allow anyone to outright insult their guests.... And Fairfield does more insulting than anyone in the recent past has. In fact, must be truckloads of money.... because they all risk losing casino patrons as we seek... (AND FIND) casinos that wouldn't do that to their guests.

Park Place Entertainment is closing the Reno Flamingo. If you were familiar with the RenoGamingGuide.com site, then you know that they sent me photos of many jackpot winners, and were contributing information on a regular basis. Apparently PPE had sold the property, and when the new owners indicated that they were going to close for remodeling, PPE decided to close the property down, and at least, there was a humane effort made on the behalf of the employees.... Payroll checks reportedly will be issued through December 4, and health benefits will continue throughout the end of the year. All efforts will also be made to absorb as many of the 1000 Flamingo employees into other PPE properties... the Reno Hilton, and Caesars Tahoe. Caesars Tahoe reportedly had 100-200 openings.... so that would help the displaced Reno workers. Sure won't do a damn thing for an already tight job market in Tahoe... locals are having a hard time of it.... my son gave up... went to work for Burger King.... because "Hey... it is work and it is pay.... not much.... but it's something compared to nothing...."

I was confronted with the horrible reality that this time, there are no miracles... none on the horizon, none over the horizon.... as in nada. I have relentlessly pursued my portion of the American Dream.... and it looks like it was all for naught. Having over 600 straight days, many as long as 20 hour days, invested... It is a horrible, painfully stabbing thought... but it appears that failure may be the ultimate outcome. Words, and promises of help.... hopes that I held dear, have been empty, and remain unfulfilled. The last grain of sand is stuck on the side of my hourglass, leaving me with little time to kill, and lots of time to worry. I know by the aches and pains that the stress has taken the toll on my body, on my mind, and on my soul. It is but inches to my end, and I know it, and can't do a damn thing to turn it around. Terrorists have demolished the American dream for so many, at least, as I go down in flames, I am consoled by the fact that I am not alone. There is no hope for aid to the entrepreneurs who had everything they owned, along with everything the rest of their family owned, invested in their dreams. The hardest part is knowing that I knew in the beginning that there was great risk.... and trying to figure out how to explain it to my parents... who are going to be devastated.... to my disabled husband, who has lost his trust in me, to my adult children... whom I had been a role model to, and to my trusting and now elderly cats and dogs.... that life as we know it has reached one helluva brick wall as an end. The thought of losing my dearly beloved, and very old... cats... because of losing my home.... is enough to spiral me downward... and a nagging thought that has me bursting into tears.... something I don't do on a normal basis.

Next step... trying to figure out what to do with 16 years of memories.... life without a roof, life without a vehicle.... and winter's sudden approach. Hmmm.... I almost took an online mental health survey this morning.... until I figured out that I didn't need to. This kind of depression is unknown to me... would have liked to have never known it, never felt it. But I guess there is no choice, and if I weren't depressed.... then there really would be something wrong with me!

I will still walk and talk about gambling. If I can keep everything on and up.... I will still write about gambling. Hell, it's the industry that I adore.... bittersweet.... but still adorable in its own way. The industry is myopic. No doubt. But it doesn't make me hate it.... or avoid it. There will always be gaming.... and as long as there is a "Star" I will be involved... somewhere, somehow, and some way. There is still much to be said, much to be reported, and much that people can change. Since I am forever uncertain about my future, if you have comments... please address the emails to winner777@iwon.com because it is the mail box I can access from anywhere.