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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Eliminate Competition and Casino Quality Declines

14 November 2001

Competition is what brings out the best in individuals and in the world of business, including the casino gambling industry. It makes everyone try harder to be the best they can possibly be, which ultimately benefits consumers as well as owners and entrepreneurs.

Businesses compete against one another for customers by creating more appealing facilities, superior products, and giving people what they want and deserve.

When consolidation, merger, takeovers, and buyouts eliminate competition, the quality of service and products almost always takes a dip. If a business has an audience held captive by a "take it or leave it" operating philosophy, if a Macy's has no fear of losing customers to a Gimbel's, the desire to improve and to excel diminishes.

I have a couple of examples in the world of gaming to share with you. One of them is relatively close-to-home on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities region. The other is a thousand miles away in the gambling Mecca of the world, Las Vegas.

First I will turn my attention to the Quad Cities. It always made for a most enjoyable gambling adventure a short two-and-a-half hour drive away. The President Casino in Davenport, Iowa, the Lady Luck in Bettendorf, Iowa, and Jumer's Casino across the river in Rock Island, Illinois, offered diversity and a variety of gambling and entertainment options.

Then Isle of Capri, Inc. bought the Lady Luck and renamed the property. Last year Isle of Capri bought the competition to the south, the President, and renamed the property Rhythm City.

When my family and I paid a visit there earlier this month, our first in over a year, I was disappointed to discover that things just aren't the same. The old, historic President Riverboat Casino, which had its own personality and charm, was taken away and replaced with a stuffy old conventional floating gambling facility with the personality of a warehouse.

Table game availability and selection at Rhythm City was at a minimum. The slot machine selection included many ancient games you hardly ever see anymore. To top it all off, video poker machines were almost non-existent, and what games were available were about as player unfriendly as you can possibly get.

Now that gaming on the Iowa side of the Quad Cities is "one big happy family" owned and operated by Isle of Capri, even the old Lady Luck is showing premature aging. Table game selection is still good, and the slot product is being updated, but video poker options are slim and quite weak. Eliminate competition and eliminate excellence. It's as simple as that.

The clear choice in the Quad Cities for discriminating gamblers is now found at Jumer's on the Illinois side. The vessel itself is small, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in personality. What's more, management is continuing to upgrade the slot product. There is a much bigger and better selection of video poker than you'll find across the river, too.

Jumer's made a giant step forward when its gaming space was expanded into the old pavilion area. Once the gaming climate in Illinois becomes more settled, look for the management team to unveil even bigger and better plans in its effort to capture the lion's share of the Quad Cities market.

A similar situation has evolved in Las Vegas where the once distinctive and ultra-popular Rio Suites Hotel & Casino is going through hard times less than two years after being swallowed up by gambling industry giant Harrah's Entertainment, Inc.

The once off-strip showplace that went from being a small, locals-oriented property to one of the best hotels and casinos in all of Las Vegas, is on the decline. Two upper management executives left abruptly earlier this month as revenues continue to plummet.

When my wife and I paid a visit to the Rio earlier this year, I was shocked to see how things have gone south. Tears in carpeting were repaired with duct tape. The once classy coffee shop located near the pool had slipped to a tired "eating area" devoid of atmosphere. The once busy casino was sparsely populated. The Rio is now just another gaming property. It kept its name but it lost its spirit.

Here's to competition. May it continue to flourish and prosper in the Chicago-area!

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