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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Competition Can Be Good for Gaming

4 May 2000

Thoughts at large about what competition from a riverboat casino location in Cook County will mean for existing Chicago-area gaming locations....

I don't know about you, but I've always thought it to be rather curious that Illinois' most successful riverboat casino offers the least direct mail perks for its player's card club members, has the least friendly personnel, and offers some of the worst rules at its table games.

Those are some reasons why I found it very difficult to feel sorry for the owners and operators of the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, Ill., when they complained that bringing a license to Rosemont in Cook County would take business away from them.

As far as Illinois casino gaming fans are concerned, giving the Grand Victoria a little competition would be a very good thing indeed! It's "lock" on the northwest section of the greater Chicago-area market has made the Grand Victoria take its patrons for granted to a large extent.

Perhaps the Grand Victoria caters to the high rollers, but it's my impression that their treatment of the average player leaves a lot to be desired. To the best of my knowledge they don't mail cash vouchers or other rewards to players as most of the other destinations in Illinois.

Also, while a majority of riverboat casinos in this area have gone to multiple odds at their craps tables, the Grand Victoria still offers double odds across the board. Dealers hit "soft 17's" at their blackjack tables, a definite minus factor for the players.

But people keep flocking to the Grand Victoria. Before dockside gambling was approved, there was always a huge crowd waiting to get on at boarding time. On cruises scheduled Fridays through Sundays it was even difficult to secure a reservation.

The rivalry between the two Joliet, Ill., destinations, and the competition that exists among the northwest Indiana casino locations, ensures a good shake for the players. The Hollywood Casino in Aurora, which is about 20 miles due south of Elgin, has some of the best programs in the market for player's card club members.

Competition from a Rosemont casino may indeed hurt the owners and operators of the Grand Victoria, as well as the revenues for the city of Elgin to a certain extent, but it won't hurt the people who play the games. And that's what really counts.

On another subject...

Have you noticed, especially if you're primarily a table games player, that riverboat casinos have become more like slot machine arcades instead of the traditional "gambling halls" of a bygone era of gaming?

The new wave of slot machines with popular game formats and video screens dominate casino floors to such an extent that table games are often lost in a sea of noise, flashing lights, and computer generated music and images.

In light of the fact that slot machines generate by far a majority of the revenues that casinos reap, it's no secret why such a premium is placed on them. But now that legislation permits dockside gambling and huge barge-type facilities instead of the smaller sea-worthy vessels, wouldn't it be nice to see some dedicated areas on the casino floor for table games players?

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