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Rod Smith

Inside Gaming Column: Thrill Rides Don't Make Stop at Bottom Line

8 August 2005

Thrill rides, marketing gurus on the Strip tell us, are great at attracting crowds. The problem is that thrill-seekers don't gamble, don't dine and don't shop. They come for the thrills and leave. New York-New York is a little different because roller coasters are part of the New York City Coney Island ambience. The Stratosphere is the blockbuster in attracting thrill seekers, we hear, but the spin-off dollars are not there, so watch for more rethinking on the thrill-seeking front.

Believe it or not, American Indians are (finally) focusing on their own addictive gambling problems. Tom Giago, writing in Native American Times, reported recently that addiction to gambling is about to cause a big splash in Indian country, where it's already adding to social problems. Adults are spending their per capita payments, welfare and paychecks at gaming tables. They are losing the money they should be using to buy school clothes for children, to pay the rent or mortgage or to buy food. "They are abandoning their children while they feed their gambling addiction at their reservation casinos."

Don't look for a Harrah's Entertainment casino in Rhode Island anytime soon. Gov. Don Carcieri, who opposes expanded gaming, says he'll veto legislation that would authorize a new casino that would pay less than the 60 percent tax payment paid by Lincoln Park and Newport Grand. Harrah's Chairman Gary Loveman is loudly on the record saying he will not play ball with state tax extortionists. The governor also says he wants to open the process to competitors. Looks like a standoff, with the state Supreme Court postponing an initiative on a tribal casino until November.

Station Casinos gave neighborhood groups in Reno an advance peek at what they have in mind for the Northern Nevada gambling mecca. The Las Vegas locals company has its designs on building a 500-room, 17-story hotel-casino across from the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, but it won't start construction for up to five years. However, the company's top priority up north is another major hotel-casino project at the Summit Sierra mall, going in at Mount Rose Highway and Virginia Street.

After giving Wynn Las Vegas a month to work out its opening-day kinks, East Coast media are beginning to roll in with serious reviews that, at best, might be called mixed. Here's what The Washington Post told readers: "Wynn Las Vegas is nice enough -- $2.7 billion will do that -- but color us underwhelmed. Until the area becomes a little more developed, we'll probably stick to the mid-Strip area -- near, uh, Bellagio, where we found rooms for $20 less this summer." Ouch.

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by e-mail at or by fax at 387-5243.

Inside Gaming Column: Thrill Rides Don't Make Stop at Bottom Line is republished from