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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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If I Owned a Casino

2 April 2002

Instead of just griping about things we don't like, or wishing for changes and improvements that never seem to happen, it's nice to fantasize at times about what we'd do if we were the boss.

Allow me to put on my Walter Mitty cap for today's column and explain how I'd run things if I owned a casino. My plan obviously doesn't make good business sense.

Chicago-area casinos operate on supply and demand economics. If their $10 and higher minimum tables weren't jammed with people playing and waiting to play, we'd see more $5 tables. If people balked at player-hostile rules at the tables or low payback percentages on video poker, things would change.

But the fact of the matter is that the casinos are doing land office business with the way things are now. In Indiana, for example, business was up 26 percent in December. The state's 10 casinos reported a combined win of $154 million, up a whopping $32 million from a year ago. Why change?

That said, here's the way things would be if I ran the show:

All the blackjack tables would be 2-deck pitch games with a $5 minimum bet. Players would be allowed to double down on any two cards, they could double down after splitting, and they could split up to four times, including aces. Furthermore, the dealers would have to stand on all 17s.

My craps tables would be $1 minimum with ten-times odds across the board. There'd be no "Big 6" and "Big 8" sections to bet on the layout, and all of the proposition bets, including the hardways, would be paid off at the more player friendly "to one" instead of "for one".

The roulette game would be the European "single zero" variety instead of the "zero" and "double zero" American style. It would be a fifty-cent table with a minimum two-dollar spread inside or outside. Just by taking the "00" off the wheel you're cutting the house edge in half.

All of the video poker machines would feature "full pay" games. There'd be a wider variety of single game options in quarter and fifty-cent versions. I would bring in some nickel and ten-cent "multi- play" machines, too.

Caribbean Stud Poker would be a $2.50 minimum ante. That would mean a player could bet $5 and have $7.50 total riding on the hand, rather than the $15 that's required around here at a five-dollar table (if you are lucky enough to find one).

The slot player's club at my casino would return one percent cash back and two percent in comp dollars for every dollar wagered. Period. That's a heck of a lot better than the fractions of a percent that's common among casinos nationwide. Every month each player would be entitled to one certificate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner for two at the buffet.

All parking, including valet, would be free. For snacks, you could purchase a Chicago-style hot dog with all the trimmings for $1 any time, day or night.

I'd be more accommodating to the seniors, who are the vast majority at casinos during the morning and early afternoon hours, by making certain there were a couple of $2 minimum blackjack tables open and that there was free continental breakfast available.

There would be a lot more promotions, including regular "triple point" days, and such attractions as a four-of-a-kind video poker "hand of the day" which would pay a bonus to anybody who catches it.

Well, there's my dream casino. I'll be shoved into reality again rather abruptly on my next visit to a Chicago-area casino where the battle to find affordable, player-friendly conditions is almost as intense as the battle to win.

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