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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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It's About Time

11 December 2004

Time to get ready for the new year. Time to make resolutions that will be broken later...out of habit, out of convenience and in your mind now as great ideas.

The casinos are doing the same...making resolutions that probably won't mean much, making plans that will probably cost too much. It's routine, it's habit and it is convenient!

Ah heck, it's the Holiday season...indulgence season. Time to take in a few shows, some laughs, and a whole lot of great gambling going on... no matter where you are in the country.

It's just a matter now of minutes, or a few hours and we all have a place to go make a few bets and hopefully hit a few jackpots... we've earned it.

In the past year we have seen our gambling environments change with the times. Ticket-In ticket-out (TITO) technology has been eliminating coins. Many of us have noted that we are "healthier" as a result...no more black fingers, faces and noses...fewer colds and illnesses...and along with TITO has come fewer jobs as fewer slots need human help other than maybe undoing a jammed ticket on occassion.

It is harder and harder to find a slot machine that accepts coins or tokens...or a slot machine bearing just one game or denomination on which it can be played. More useless coins at least in Nevada...my pocket for "useless change" used to include just pennies and dimes...now it includes nickels and quarters. 'Pocket Poppers' were what I used to call my coins. They were responsible for many jackpots in the past...now quarters are used only for the laundromat.

Casinos have redecorated to be more elegant and less neon in many cases. It reminds me that my home is not elegant...it reminds me that it cost a lot of money to make it appear that way and it reminds me that casinos weren't built on winners.

Is that the way I am supposed to think? It makes me uncomfortable and I seek warmer surroundings where people just like me can be happy and comfortable.

It's been a year of thought. I watch the casinos closely as they expand...diversify...and expand again. I watch the mergers on-going. MGG and MBG...December 10 was the share holders' vote on that one. I haven't heard the results yet. Next on the list is the HET/CZR merger...Caesars Tahoe has been sold to Colonial Sussex, which owns the Horizon across the street from Caesars. The Caesars employees had been holding their breath waiting to see who would buy it. I'm sure some are crying. Harrah's already owns Harrah's Tahoe, Harveys Tahoe and Bill's Casino on the South Shore. The only 'odd-man out' is the Lakeside Inn about a mile east of the other casinos. It seems wierd. The HET/CZR merger will probably take until early summer to close. About the same time the sale of CZR's Tahoe property does.

I go to Tahoe now and return depressed. Fewer slots, more sex and booze, and less of the new technology and games that sweep Reno by storm. It looks like they got to a certain point and just slammed to a butt-screeching halt. I was stuck with cash out tickets that I couldn't re-insert in any machines nearby and then stuck again waiting for a hand pay on a slot that wasn't marked as one that required hand pays...a slot that Reno wouldn't dream of buying without a ticket "thingie." It was inconvenient and dis-heartening. I never thought I would say it, but I am so happy that I left Lake Tahoe it is pathetic.

The Gambling Gripes members section of the www.UnitedGamblers.com has had a little business. Mostly checking and explaining procedures for different states to people. I'm hoping that given a little time and a little word of mouth that people will realize that there is a place to go to look for a solution for their gambling complaints...and look upon the nominal membership fee as a kind of insurance policy...that membership comes with a logo'd tee shirt and until January 1st a ten buck rebate check in with that tee. Shipping is priority mail. And it is set up online so that if you don't buy a membership and would just rather have a tee...you can buy that. Payment is PayPal OR Check/Money Order... You can look at the shirts there too!

Also, one of the members is looking for people who would like to try to make some changes to the IRS laws regarding allowing wins over certain amounts to fall into the capital gains catagory. A subject for discusson that I thought I would pass on before I go. Members can support their own gaming future...catch up on news, check our national casino directory, post about their state's gambling, tell stories, share wisdom, and form thatCOLLECTIVE VOICE! We've got to unite and be heard.

Before the mergers are concrete. Add your voice!