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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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News and Views from the Casinos

26 September 2001

Internet gambling still has a long way to go before it's legalized and regulated in the United States, but if and when it is, the State of Nevada will be poised to be the industry leader. The Silver State's governor, Kenny Guinn, has signed legislation allowing Nevada casinos to offer Internet gambling. Participating casinos will have to pay a $500,000 licensing fee, an annual renewal fee of $250,000, and a 6.25 percent tax on winnings. With Internet gambling expected to grow from $1.5 billion in 2000 to $6 billion by 2003, we're talking major bucks.

One thing is for certain. If owning and operating an Internet casino in the United States is ever sanctioned, it'll spell the end of the unregulated industry as we know it today. Once users are guaranteed that they are engaging in online gambling with reputable site owners and honest games, there's no telling how big this burgeoning market can become. The Nevada State Gaming Commission is already seeking legal counsel about setting up the parameters for casino-owned gambling sites. I'll keep you posted.

Almost everyone who has taken a trip to Las Vegas has been warned about playing the slot machines scattered throughout McCarran International Airport. "They're the 'tightest' machines in Nevada," tourists and gamblers have been told. On our latest trip to Vegas, my wife Georgette and I discovered the machines may not only be "tight", they're also a sucker bet. Let me explain:

Every slot player is familiar with machine pay tables. On IGT's Double Diamond slot game, for example, the jackpot pays 800 coins for one coin played and 1,600 coins for two coins played. In all the casinos I've played, I have never seen a deviation from this norm as far as Double Diamond is concerned. Well, I spotted one in the smoking area of McCarran with this disgraceful jackpot pay table: 400 coins for one coin played and 1,000 coins for two coins played. Incredible!

I started looking around and discovered altered pay tables on other slot games as well, including the popular Red, White, & Blue Sevens machines. When I walked around to take a look at the video poker machines I was equally amazed to find stingy 7/5 pay tables. Mind you, there's nothing illegal about this practice. The only crime involved is if you were tempted to play them!

The unsuspecting tourist just doesn't know the difference. When they walk off the plane and are greeted by the electronic chorus of "one-armed bandits", it's tough to resist. But don't be lured by the Siren's call. Say NO to stingy slot and video poker machines. Wait until you get to the hotel and then go shopping for the best machines to play.

Whether or not a machine is "tight" (in other words, it is programmed to pay back a lower percentage of money to players) is the proprietary knowledge of the casino owner. The pay tables, however, are in plain view for everyone to see. Learn how to read them and how to separate the sucker bets from the fair bets. In the meantime, DON'T play the airport slots.

Not long ago while playing video poker at the Empress Casino in Joliet, I was witness to the stuff of which gambling dreams are made! I was playing fifty-cent Triple Play/Five Play video poker on the lower level of Empress I. I was playing two coins a hand ($3.00) on the Triple-Double Bonus Triple Play game when all of a sudden I heard a player on the other side shout for joy.

The player sitting next to me got up to look around the corner and see what had happened. She came back to tell me that a lady playing Five Play with maximum coins on each hand ($2.50 a hand or $12.50 per deal) had been DEALT a natural Royal Flush on her opening hand! All she had to do was hit the "hold" button for each card, hit the "deal" button, and watch gleefully as five royal flush hands popped up with 4,000 coin jackpot payoffs on each one. That's $2,000 a hand or a cool $10,000.

I had to take a peak at the miracle myself. It's kind of like a total eclipse of the sun for a gambler! Only scientists tell us exactly when an eclipse will take place. If only we knew when we'd be dealt a Royal Flush.

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