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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Price Is Right Fever Rocks the Rio

12 March 2002

The Price is Right, an icon of daytime television, and Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., the worldwide behemoth of casino gambling, would appear on the surface of things to be an unlikely couple.

Bob Barker, the legendary star of the show throughout its remarkable three-decade run, insists on wholesome family entertainment. The only hints of S-E-X on the Price is Right are Bob's daily admonition to "have your pets spayed or neutered" and of course the modeling talents of the famed "Barker's Beauties." Announcer Rod Roddy's wardrobe of glitzy sports coats tailor-made in Hong Kong and his patented "Come on Down!" call to contestants are gems of American pop culture.

Then there's Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., with corporate headquarters in "Sin City," Las Vegas, the gambling Mecca of the world, and owner and operator of casino properties nationwide. The accent on the entertainment Harrah's provides is for ADULT family members. Casinos are no place for children.

Included in the Price is Right's entertainment inventory are "bigger than life" board games such as PLINKO and Punch Board, and pricing games based on the rolls of dice and the turns of playing cards, but it's all for fun. Contestants have nothing to lose and everything to gain, including "A New Car!" whenever Rod Roddy bellows that happy announcement.

Harrah's has games, too, but they're for real. The dice that roll on craps tables and the cards that are turned on blackjack tables mean the difference between winning and losing money. Sometimes, not even a few consoling words from Bob Barker would be sufficient to sooth away the slings and arrows of a bad session of gambling.

Yet, out of all the contrasts, even as in the world of dating and marriage, opposites do attract. In the case of Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. and the "Fabulous 60 Minutes" Price is Right, it's a match made in entertainment heaven.

Last year the first generation of video slot machines with a Price is Right theme made its debut with a limited time exclusive at Harrah's properties nationwide, including Harrah's Joliet Hotel & Casino and Harrah's East Chicago Hotel & Casino in the Chicago-area.

That first edition of Price is Right slots was based on the show's popular "Cliffhanger" pricing game. Even though I'm not a big fan or advocate of this particular genre of electronic gaming devices, it proved to be incredibly popular with slot players around the country. So popular, in fact, that Price is Right PLINKO slots have already hit casino floors nationwide with more games planned for future release.

On Thursday evening, January 17, the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, a Harrah's owned property, hosted the prime time taping of the 30th anniversary special of the Price is Right in its Samba Showroom. The special aired on Thursday, January 31, on CBS.

Promos about the taping started running on the Price is Right in December. Viewers were instructed to check out the show's Web site for ticket information. The plans were for the ticket line to start forming at 6 a.m. at the Rio's showroom box office the morning of the taping. Tickets would then be distributed to the first 900 people starting at 10 am. Yeh, right.

What is the old adage about the "best laid plans?" People started showing up the evening before, and in the wee hours of the morning, hundreds of Price is Right fans from all around the country were mingling around. By the time 5:30 a.m. rolled around, the crowd had grown into the thousands and the overwhelmed hotel staff was literally forced to start giving the tickets away.

That left thousands more fans who showed up at the appointed time schedule very upset, and more importantly, disappointed. Oh well, I guess there have to be spats even in the best of marriages. That's little consolation for Price is Right fans who played by the rules and got burned by the marauders.

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