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Rod Smith

Inside gaming column: Thanksgiving thrills far from the green felt

4 December 2006

Golf course operators say for them Thanksgiving turned out to be the biggest day of the year, and it has casinos looking for more ways to turn a buck. But, more important, in the age of nongaming amenities, the profitable day showed spouses and children have lots of time for the pools, the shopping, the fine dining and the shows. Operators of the Forum Shops at Caesars and the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian were thrilled. They also say Thanksgiving gives their chefs a day to glow when visitors want to linger rather than rush.

Online bets on political sweepstakes may not be legal, but they tend to be more accurate than many commentators in predicting trends over time. And already, the horses are on the track. Handicapping the 2008 Republican race, favors Arizona Sen. John McCain 4-to-1 for the nomination, despite a liberal fan base and love affair with the media (curses on us). Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani comes in second, followed by former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and House Armed Services Committee honcho Duncan Hunter. Where on Earth has the party of Ronald Reagan gone?

The Washington Post is putting its foot down firmly against slot machines to balance budget deficits. "Slots offer the false promise of enormous pools of pain-free revenue," the paper said in a Nov. 18 editorial. "In fact, they are a tax on the poor, and they invite trouble in the form of corruption, gambling addiction, broken families and crime." The East Coast media giant urges Maryland leaders to let slots die a quiet death. "The siren song of slot machine gambling as a panacea for ... budget problems" should not seduce community or political leaders, says the Post. So there it is, the first punt in the games to expand gaming in the coming legislative cycles.

Coming to your local Four Seasons: High-End Health Care. Newsweek reports that's how billionaire David Murdock sees it when his California Well-Being Institute opens in Westlake Village, north of Los Angeles. Murdock, the chairman of the Dole Food Co., sees the $500 million luxury complex as the first piece of a "medihotel" miniempire where the well-heeled can check into the Four Seasons for the weekend and get things ranging from magnetic resonance imaging to teeth whitening.

David Letterman has long been known for his wild-and-crazy introductions, but recently he raced on stage, introduced as a Nevada gaming regulator. What was that about? Letterman regulating gaming might be about par for the course, but Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Peter Bernhard and Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander entertaining a live nighttime audience might turn out to be dull as a doughnut.

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by e-mail at rsmith@reviewjournal. com or by phone at 477-38