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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Illinois vs. Indiana

19 February 2003

Casino gambling options in the Chicago-area co-exist in two very separate and distinct jurisdictions. There are four destinations on the Illinois side (Aurora, Elgin, and two in Joliet) and five on the Indiana side in the Northwest region of the state (Hammond, two in Gary, East Chicago, and Michigan City). The impact this situation has on players is quite significant.

Because the gaming that is available to area residents is governed by separate states and subject to separate statutes, rules, and regulations, there are some major differences. The biggest difference is the one that directly affects the casino patrons: Namely, the fact that casinos in Illinois are limited to 1,200 gaming positions each, while casinos in Indiana are not shackled by a restriction.

In many respects, the restriction under which Illinois casinos operate has created a rather uneven playing field, including the number and variety of table games that are available.

Let's take a look at blackjack, for example. On the Illinois side there are 77 positions at the four casino destinations, while on the Indiana side there are 138. The casino-by-casino breakdown: Elgin Grand Victoria (22), Harrah's Joliet (21), and Empress Joliet and Hollywood Aurora (17 each).

Compare those figures to blackjack availability in Indiana: Michigan City Blue Chip (35), Gary Majestic Star (30), Harrah's East Chicago (26), Gary Trump (25), and Hammond Horseshoe (22).

There are also differences in craps table availability, albeit less dramatic than in the case of blackjack. Craps positions total 18 in Illinois versus 20 in Indiana. As for roulette, the count is 19 for Indiana versus 12 for Illinois.

Perhaps the most glaring difference between the two jurisdictions is the availability of baccarat and variations of poker games. If you're a fan of either one of these gambling options, chances are you make the trip across the border to Indiana more often than not.

In the Chicago area on the Illinois side, there is only one baccarat table at each of the four casino destinations: Mini-baccarat at Harrah's Joliet and Hollywood Aurora, and grand baccarat at Joliet Empress and Elgin Grand Victoria.

If you go to a casino in Northwest Indiana, there are nine baccarat options at the Horseshoe, seven at Harrah's East Chicago, six at Trump, four at Majestic Star, and two at the Blue Chip.

The baccarat score? Indiana 28, Illinois 4.

How about table poker games? On the Illinois side for Let it Ride fans, only Harrah's Joliet, Empress Joliet, and Hollywood Aurora offer the game, and there's only one table at each location. The Grand Victoria doesn't even have Let it Ride. Caribbean Stud Poker is offered at all four destinations but only Empress Joliet offers Three Card Poker.

In Northwest Indiana there is a greater selection of games and variety. The mix includes not only Let it Ride, Caribbean Stud, and Three Card Poker, but also Caribbean Draw and Pai Gow, among others.

The poker variations score? Indiana 44, Illinois 19.

Floor area at the casinos is not at issue here. In many respects, because of the legalization of dockside gaming barge facilities, there is even more room at Chicago-area casinos in Illinois than aboard some of the vessels in Northwest Indiana.

With the limit on game positions in Illinois, license holders cannot afford to "waste" space on the less profitable table games. Indiana license holders have the freedom to "fit in" whatever they can, which gives them the luxury of a wider variety of table games and more of them.

Next week I'll take a look at the differences in slot play.

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