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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Casinos Make Dining and Gambling a Perfect Pair

24 March 2010

If the only dining experience you associate with a gambling outing is the cliché bargain buffet or mundane snack shop, you're in for a pleasant surprise at casino destinations in the greater Chicago area.

Most properties have followed the examples set by Atlantic City and Las Vegas to create a complete entertainment experience above and beyond what the slots and table games offer.

Frank Freedman, assistant general manager at Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Michigan, said: "I think a very big statement was made when Borgata opened in Atlantic City in 2003 and placed a very large emphasis on the non-gaming amenities.

"The other properties followed suit," he continued, "with the realization that there's a whole other demographic out there that may not particularly be gamers but enjoy great entertainment, great food and beverage, shopping and the like."

Four Winds typifies the priority that has been placed on making casino entertainment appealing to a broad spectrum.

Dining options include Copper Rock Steakhouse, The Buffet, Willowbrook Café, and Timbers Fast Food & Deli.

In addition there are four lounges, including a receiving bar at Copper Rock plus the Martini Bar, Sports Bar, and Stage Bar.

"Statistically, the majority of gamers who visit the property come with a significant other who may or may not be a gamer," Freedman said. "We take as much thought and concern over the experience of the non-gamer as the gamer when they're here."

The ultimate goal, of course, is to grow business by introducing people who aren't inclined to gamble to the overall casino environment with the hope they'll come back.

The resort component at Four Winds and many other properties around the country has in some respects made gambling an option rather than a necessity.

America's love affair with cooking, fueled by the popularity of cable TV shows devoted to the culinary arts, has made pop culture icons out of chefs who now view Las Vegas and other gaming jurisdictions around the country as bold frontiers for exposure.

Just as casino operators make a science out of maximizing revenues from the gambling end of business, so have they started looking to food and beverage as a primary means to drive in business and grow customer base.

Whereas gambling revenue was always the primary source of income for casinos, the trend has shifted to making money from restaurants, upscale retail establishments, and other non-gaming amenities.

The accent for fine dining in high-end casino restaurants is on prime steaks and chops, fresh seafood, imaginative preparation, extensive wine lists, creative desserts, and elegant surroundings.

The biggest bonus of all is the exceptional value you can find, especially when compared to the prices at stand-alone restaurants outside of the casino environment.

At Copper Rock, for example, a special Copper Classics three-course dinner for $35 per person is currently available Sunday through Friday. There's a choice of five starters, five entrees (including prime rib and filet mignon), a side dish and dessert.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp