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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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New Slots in Tahoe

24 August 2001

Walking through the casinos in Tahoe, I noticed that tucked among some of the newer multi-line slots that have 15-25 pay lines, there were a couple of good 9-lines... and reports from Generation-X to the old say that they are fun and pay fairly well. One is "My Rich Uncle," which blesses the player with different bonuses that pay pretty well, even if you are betting only one coin per line. But the newest and most different slot to hit the floors I found over at Caesars Tahoe... and it is a nickel version of "Slotto"... which are the ones with the plastic bubbles on top filled with numbered ping-pong balls. Called "Slotto-Mart" and sporting the balls on top, it is a nine-line game that allows bets of up to five coins per line... and the bonuses vary. You can either go to a screen that gives you a scratch card of other WMS games, like "Little Green Men," and scratch off your choice, which reveals a number that will be your bonus pay... and if you get a "bonus card" on your scratch, you go to another game that offers double pays. If you line up three slotto balls on the pay line, you get to activate the hopper on top... and can get up to 1000 coin pay-offs per line. There are only four of them, on the end of the quarter version aisle, but reports are that people are having fun, and making money at the same time. Which is the whole point of gambling in the first place. If you are attracted to the new video slots, and don't mind playing a machine that looks like something the kids would enjoy too... then I would point you in that direction.

Smoke gets in your eyes....And screws up your lungs too.... smoke has filled the Tahoe air for two days now, coming from fires all around us.... looks like my words about the fire danger last week were but a small prediction of how the fire season will turn out. Yesterday, the mountains that surround my Christmas Valley home were all but obliterated from the smoke pouring in from the South and from the Northwest... so please, do use caution if you are anywhere in the west.

I had to chuckle over a conversation that has been ongoing on one of the message boards frequented by Harrah's Entertainment shareholders. Seems like HET is giving them a run for their money... and one questioned my statements, proudly claiming that they didn't have much to do with the HET stocks. It took every bit of space allowed to further explain to him that while my Tahoe Gaming Guide was but an ink spot on the face of the big picture, that it does indeed comprise part of the larger picture. When I decided to close down, I was not the only one feeling the pinch. In fact, I was one of many who decided to bow out of the situation, as over $400,000 worth of local vendor contracts bit the dust. Many people have moved on, several winding up at the California Indian Casinos.... as most offer on-site child care for employees...something not seen in Lake Tahoe... or Reno, for that matter.

The difference being that Harveys had their corporate offices located in Lake Tahoe, and corporate decisions and vendor contracts were signed locally. With Harrah's not being headquartered in Lake Tahoe, everything that the locals depended on suffered from the move, much like a domino effect. If you take the whole picture, and break it down into thumbnail views, this isn't the only region feeling the pinch. Things are not faring much better with the Rio, either. HET is laying off entire departments, and closing restaurants, as they shift from catering to the high rollers, and try to enter the world of what I refer to as "volume marketing".... as they try to increase traffic by replacing table games and restaurants with slot machines that appeal more to the masses. It is something to watch closely, as all the thumbnails do add up to the whole picture. If you take away a set of positives and replace it with negatives, there are bound to be economic impacts felt all the way up and all the way down the entire chain. When you add up all the impacts per region, it will impact the dividends in the long run. If it didn't... why would HET blame the problems on Reno/Tahoe and the Rio?

If I seem a little distracted, it is because I am. The nature of being a grandparent is catching up to me quickly. My daughter and grandson are headed this way from Seattle, escaping a relationship gone bad... and I worry... her traveling alone with a sick baby by bus... a twenty-hour trip... leaving most of her possessions behind... and worrying what will happen as the father isn't one of the most mentally stable people I have met.... enter the legal system for this one! To add to the mix, my son, who just became a dad on the fourteenth, and his girlfriend lost their jobs, and their house.... living in a hot stuffy motel, and the new baby is sick and visiting the hospital too. Looks like the house will be filled with sick babies and nervous parents, nervous grandparents, and nervous great-grandparents. Now if I could just be the matriarch that could afford to help them all, I wouldn't be quite so distracted! Ahhh... the joys of parenthood that bless us all!

Happy and prosperous gambling to all! May the jackpots be plenty, and may luck...and the nanosecond be with us all!