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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Chicago-Area Casinos Have It Their Way

23 April 2003

Every once in a while I receive letters from readers asking why casinos in the Chicago area are not more responsive to the requests of average recreational gamblers. Many times the issues raised are beyond the control of the individual casinos, which must adhere to state-sanctioned regulatory controls.

Quite often, however, there are legitimate questions which address the public's desires and the local casino market's apparent unwillingness to "give the people what they want". For example, "Why aren't there more five dollar minimum tables?" or "Why isn't there more and better video poker?"

Lorraine Contreros of Chicago wrote to ask why local casinos have drastically reduced the availability of twenty-five cent video keno games. She said that letters she and other players wrote to casino managements complaining about losing their favorite game have gone unanswered. She says: "I feel casinos should always please their customers."

You're absolutely correct, Lorraine. Casinos and all other responsible businesses should put their customers first. The casino industry does, but only on its own terms. These terms are dictated by the economic principle of supply and demand. Because demand exceeds supply around here, the terms usually favor the casinos.

There are some mitigating factors to take into account when questions such as the one Lorraine asked are raised in reference to the Chicago-area casino gambling market. For one, the gaming properties in both Illinois and Indiana are under space restrictions. In Illinois, there is even a restriction on the number of gaming positions that are allowed. There is a priority to use the available space to maximize profits.

Second, the heavy tax levies placed on area casinos put pressure on the companies which own and operate them. A primary motive of good business is to make money for its owners and investors. When a business is taxed so heavily so as to discourage growth and improvements, the public it serves ultimately feels the effects.

Chicago-area casinos are in the catbird seat at the present time. The market, according to most analysts, is not saturated. If the remaining tenth gaming license is ever activated in Illinois, or if there is an expansion of casino gambling in this area, a stronger spirit of competition for customers will be created among the existing license holders.

Until that happens, local casinos are going to continue to give customers mainly what the casinos themselves want. Games such as twenty-five cent video keno, on which many people played just one coin per play, are expendable. Video keno is a slow-moving variety of electronic gaming device which has all the makings of a low revenue generator, something local casinos feel they cannot afford.

Chicago-area casinos apparently are under the impression they do not owe the public the luxury of keeping the games in any great quantity. The machines are easily replaced by slot varieties which have the potential to attract more play and create higher revenues.

Similarly, as long as $10, $15, and $25 minimum gaming tables are filled, there is no incentive for casinos to offer the more affordable $5 tables, something a majority of average players overwhelmingly favor.
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