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Best of John G. Brokopp

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Majestic Star Assumes Role of "Locals" Casino

18 October 2006

Las Vegas, Nevada, is much more than the unofficial "Gambling Capital of the World". The city is really two gambling worlds in one: The mega resorts that cater to the tourists and the biggest gamblers in the world as well as the properties that have become known as "locals" casinos, whose stock in trade is building strong bases of regular customers among the residents of the area and destination visitors.

Locals casinos are well known for their low-minimum table games, large inventories of video poker with strong pay tables, friendly staff and good food at affordable prices.

The Majestic Star Casino & Hotel in Gary comes closest to filling the role of a locals establishment in the Chicago area. Among the eight casino properties in this market, it appears to be the only one content to brand itself as the place where average recreational gambling enthusiasts can go for low minimum table game action, Las Vegas-style live poker, and solid video poker.

Three-dollar minimum blackjack, roulette and craps games were recently introduced, available 24/7, plus the casino is home to the area's biggest live poker room (21 tables), which offers low stakes $3/$6 Texas Hold'em. The Majestic also offers double-deck blackjack, a game that's a staple in Las Vegas locals establishments.

Majestic's poker room impresario, Dom Niro, is a well known and well liked veteran of the game. He runs an exciting venue in an energized environment to which fans of the game seem to flock. The regular action is spiced with tournament play including weekly events and specials. The Heartland Poker Tour, for example, is making a stop at the Majestic later this month.

Perhaps the Majestic Star's best claim to player friendly fame is the video poker. The casino's extensive inventory of machines and games includes 9/7 Double Bonus Poker, 9/6 Double Double Bonus Poker and Super Aces Bonus Poker and Not-So-Ugly Deuces Poker available with optimum pay tables. It doesn't get any better in the Chicago area.

It's a sure sign of the maturation of gambling in this region. State-regulated casino operations in the Chicago area have come a long way since 1992, when riverboat gaming was launched in Illinois.

Who among us looks fondly to those early days when we had to call up to make reservations for a gambling session, fork over as much as $18 admission per person, board the vessel in a veritable cattle call, then be requested to depart when the session was over to make room for the next herd of eager gamblers?

Or how about trying to get to the casino on time to make the boarding time before the doors closed, only to get stuck in traffic?

In spite of the fact the industry has matured, it still has a long way to go. Gaming in the Greater Chicago area is still a seller's market. With four destinations on the Illinois side and another quartet of properties in Northwest Indiana, the demand for gambling (according to industry analysts) exceeds the supply. As long as this situation remains, we're going to have to live with what the present license holders choose to give us.

This is pretty much the way it is with all of the gaming jurisdictions that have sprung up in states around the country. Casino operators cater to the specific market dynamics in which they do business, so some regions are more "player friendly" than others, but in a major metropolis like the Chicago area the biggest emphasis remains on attracting the "high rollers".

Table games with a five dollar minimum bet at casinos in the Chicago area are the exception rather than the rule. Some destinations don't even offer them.

The two most profitable casino operations are the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin and the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, yet both casinos place little emphasis on video poker and the games they do offer have anemic pay tables. Their success is based on high roller table game and slot machine play.

CASINO NEWS: Unless it has already been hit by the time you read this, the Caribbean Stud Poker progressive jackpot at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond is reaching enticing proportions, reminiscent of times a decade ago when the pots were huge attractions. No player has been dealt a royal flush on the bonus dollar bet since June of last year when someone collected $260,501. Horseshoe's progressive recently swelled to over $450,000. Getting close to the half-million level statistically makes the extra buck you need to qualify for it worth the risk.

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