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Best of Star Brooks

Gaming Guru

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What Price Entertainment?

17 August 2001

I’ve noticed a growing trend.... now instead of finding happy gamblers playing the newer slots, I am instead finding clumps of gamblers piled into the remaining "old" slots.... standing room only for the video pokers... and it is getting harder and harder to find an uncrowded group of video keno machines. Could it be that the entertainment factor, the big draw to the newer slots, is wearing thin?

Also growing, the number of complaints.... people are starting to tell me that they have had it with the new theme games.... tired of putting in many dollars per spin on nickel machines, tired of bonus games... and one reader wrote me to tell me:

I hate the new multi-line slots. They are too noisy, don’t make a lot of sense and the risk versus the reward isn’t worth what it costs to play them. I wish the manufacturers would stick to two and three-coin slots with reasonable jackpots that pay frequently. If I wanted to play video games, I would go to the arcade with the kids.

That reader isn’t alone... every time I set foot in the casinos, I hear more and more of the same. People are complaining about the lack of reasonable games. Casinos are moving out more and more of the familiar, and replacing them with more and more of the same old, same old.... as in piles and piles of money grabbing multi-line, multi-coin, multi-denomination video slots... which another casino patron told me (again) that "it’s the same old crappy game, just with different pictures...." and after seeing the bonus features a few times, most get up and go in search of something familiar.... something old.... and something less expensive, and more logical to play.

Slot sections that used to be full of happy gamblers sit vacant... even on a Saturday night... people walk by the new games, maybe poke a few coins in, and then they simply wander off. It’s getting so that if I want to find a crowd, I have to go in search of the older slot banks.... and sure enough, even at 4 am there will be at least a few people... but that "few" is getting to be bigger numbers as each day passes by.

Apparently the casinos aren’t aware of what is going on on their casino floors... otherwise they wouldn’t be sniveling so badly about declining visitor counts, about "retail" guests they can’t track, sure, they will complain about it, lay the blame on something entirely different, but as far as "getting it".... I am sure they don’t have a clue. If they did, there wouldn’t be thousands of square feet of casino floor space devoid of gamblers. If they did, they might notice that only one in four people is even bothering to track with their players card in the card reader. The only reason I know these things is that these are the things I set out to observe when I come through their casinos. It isn’t just one shift anymore.... graveyard always had gaps... but when you can drop in day shift around 1 pm, and swing shift, around 8 pm and still find great big gaps... it sort of forms a clear picture for me.

I’m going to break from the mold, and go back a little bit in time and talk about Lake Tahoe... my home, though threatened by the predicaments that I put myself in in my efforts to promote my own area and region, is threatened by another very real danger.... wildfires.... The forest surrounding Tahoe, and where the "GAP" fire is currently burning, is 97% dry. Lightning has sparked some very ferocious fires recently... and the lack of humidity and the heat have contributed to fires consuming thousands of acres and many structures already this year.

Since I presumably live in the middle of a vortex, sort of like that when you flush the toilet, and I might not be around much longer as a cyber-citizen, or rather someone with a roof over their head and internet access... I wanted to take a moment to ask everyone who is visiting the forests this summer and this fall to please exercise extreme caution. Many campgrounds are banning campfires altogether, and others limiting them... so please, follow the rules and use your head about that campfire, that barbecue, and that cigarette. I see way too many smokers dangling their butts out the windows of their cars, and some even dumb enough to throw that butt on the road. Remember, "THE BUTT YOU SAVE MIGHT BE YOUR OWN!"

With the precarious nature of my web existence, if you can't reach me by e-mail at please try again using ...the alternate e-mail is something I can access even if the web sites are unplugged and from other computers should the phones or the house be pulled from underneath me. While there have been offers of salvation from several different places, none so far has held the key to averting the disasters caused by running four unfunded web sites for over a year and a half.