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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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From the Road to Vegas

22 March 2002

We started out for Vegas last Sunday.... only to have the motor home towed back to Minden after a hose left behind by a mechanic fell into all the fresh new belts.... twanging them like over-stretched rubber bands... so after spending a day back at the mechanic's garage....(where they ate the labor and parts and made it right) we found ourselves heading out again on Tuesday morning.

First trip out in the motor home... down through Central Nevada to Las Vegas... the road was all ours, and the motor home turned out to be all we had hoped for. After several hours on the road, we pulled off and made a pot of coffee, contemplating the Nevada maps and magazines in front of us... and decided to take the next turn across Nevada and head for Pahrump. Why on earth Pahrump, and where the heck is Pahrump? Try 65 miles west of Las Vegas.... and we headed to Terrible's Lakeside Casino.... relatively new, and surrounded by a man-made oasis of palms and grassy hills surrounding a beautiful and equally man-made lake.... and a beautiful, rustic log cabin structure for the casino. Rates for parking the RV were well under $20..... and the facilities were shiny and new. Unfortunately, the wind started to blow, and blow, and blow some more. While the facilities were great, and kids could get paddle boats and such for free, nobody could fight that wind.... Even the palm trees bent over!

Awakening early the next morning, we set "sail" for Las Vegas. The wind was still blowing, and the forecasts didn't promise any relief.... even in Las Vegas. Driving down the Las Vegas strip in the motor home was a blast.... and I did it just to say that I could... and did.... from the Northern end all the way to the Southern end.... it felt good to sit above it all and take in the sights from the panoramic views offered by a motor home windshield. We pulled into "Circusland" RV resort at Circus Circus... the only RV park operated by a casino on the strip. Acres and acres of RVs were parked there, and while we found it centrally located, without argument... it also was very noisy.... tucked in a triangle surrounded by I-15, a train track, and the Vegas strip. It was also extremely windy.... winds that Vegas couldn't remember having. Setting out on the strip that evening, we blew up and down all the familiar Vegas sights, and found that almost everything outside... from the Pirate's fighting at Treasure Island, to the Bellagio water show... CANCELLED due to wind. So we took in the indoor sights, including the Venetian to cure that itch. They don't want you to have cable tv worth watching... not in Pahrump... where RVers had congregated in the roadways to discuss the fact that it didn't exist... even though there were cable hook-ups on each post on every site... and not in Vegas either... it must be a hidden penalty for RVers.... but all you get is extreme basic... nothing fancy... about a dozen channels.

So, on the third day, we moved.... up to the Silverton. The Silverton casino is South of the strip, about four miles. What they don't tell you... is that the Silverton is smack under the flight path to McCarran International Airport.... so we had traded trains and freeways for the view of the underside of monster jets... oh, about three every five minutes, probably about 700 feet above us.... for hours and hours. The day before they had switched to being a KOA property. It was a beautiful, landscaped park.... and it cost as much as any motel in the area. Cable there was basic too.... and I began feeling a little inconvenienced. If I wanted to hook up the computer in Pahrump, I had to unplug an internet access kiosk in the office... limited hours, and one little place. To hook up to the internet at Circusland, I would have had to hop the shuttle, carry the laptop over to Circus Circus, and look up the business center.... in 60 mile-an-hour winds, it wasn't an attractive idea. The Silverton offered one phone jack in the lobby, or if you carried a long phone cord, you could hook up to the pole at each site, also for a fee. Each internet access had a bill for the service... so I opted to use the sole data port in the lobby, when I could be the one to get to it. It also had a habit of cutting off the access periodically, making me wonder if it wasn't deliberate so that charges could accrue. I began to miss my little laundry room data port back in Minden. So I made the calls I had to make, and packed up the motor home on Friday, and roared back in my motor home to the place I call home.... yep... back to Minden..... in between the winds, and the weather, and the snow.... even encountering snowy conditions just 19 miles from Minden... learning in a great big hurry that the motor home travels well... even on three inches of snow on the road! The small and intimately cozy casino at the Carson Valley Inn looked great and welcoming.... sometimes even when you have no home... it's good to be "home."

About the casinos on the way..... and at each destination.... I was a little discouraged when I realized that as far as slot machines go, there weren't very many that I hadn't seen yet... even in a small area like Lake Tahoe.... one's that I noticed as new included "The Honeymooner's," "Bewitched," "Boot Scoot," and "Wild Cougar." All were multi-line slots ranging from 9-15 lines.... and every one that I touched didn't yield enough return to make me want to play them... which I think was pretty disappointing! I also was a little surprised to hear from many of my fellow RVers that they thought the payouts were better in Reno and Lake Tahoe.... over Vegas... over just about anywhere. For all those years in Tahoe... the word was always the other way around... Tahoe was supposed to be tight, and other places better. I also noticed a great proliferation of slots made by "Aristocrat" taking over a lot of casino floor space, where it used to be IGT laden. This would probably substantiate the rumors that many casinos are cutting back on the number of IGT slots on their floors... the rumors seem to center around what IGT is charging the casinos.... seems that they have gotten a little pricy, according to my sources. If that's the case, then I am truly sorry.... I don't think that there is quite the quality in the games, the features aren't as good, and quite frankly, there were times when I was getting bored just looking at them! I sincerely hope that game designers will get away from some of the "dumber" games (for lack of words... ) and start designing some games more suitable for the adult mind. I had to wonder why they make a big stink about underage gambling, when all the darned games are more attractive to a child's mind then they are the adult mind!

Returning to the Carson Valley Inn in Minden, I found them installing new slots once again. This time games like "Chickendale's" where you pick from three naked chickens dancing on one bonus, and if you pick the right symbol during that bonus feature, you get a "private dance" from that chicken and a chance to rack up more credits. I had to stop and think after awhile... if they are serving this stuff up to the adults.... what the heck are they serving the kids in the arcades? Real slots? It seemed like there were many more slots looking at me geared to appeal to children.... and that for the most part, they were the slots being played the least.... there still is a stack up of people wanting to play the video poker and keno slots over those wanting to play 9-180 nickels. And still.... Wheel of Fortune slots keep giving away millions... for as little as three quarters. What's wrong with that picture?

I don't know where we go from here.... I know it can only be forward... but then it can only go forward with the funding. So once again, I set out to seek alternate forms of advertising revenues to keep the little gambling mobile afloat. There is a whole vast world out there full of uncharted waters... there are alot of people out there in RVs.... going from casino to casino... looking for information.... and for each other. If it all doesn't work this time... then it will be my ending. But I won't ever hear anyone saying that I didn't try...and try... and try again.