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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Striking a Happy Medium Between Gambling and Entertainment

10 September 2008

Are casino outings for gambling or entertainment? The casino industry's spin is entertainment, which in a broad sense is credible when you factor in dining, recreation, shopping and shows.

Gambling, however, is what drives the casino industry. For a vast majority of gaming enthusiasts, this component is entertainment as well. Many people derive pleasure from spending that portion of their income set aside for recreational pursuits on casino games.

All leisure pursuits cost more money these days. Professional sporting events, restaurants, concerts, the theater, cinema, amusement parks, overnight getaways, even a golf outing once or twice a week, represent significant monetary investment.

Casino-goers can budget as much money for a gaming session as many other activities and obtain the desired result: fun, adventure and escapism. It's what they chose to do. There's even the unique bonus of possibly winning some cash.

As is the case with many other things that people do, gambling can also be a problem. It can become an addiction for some, a derisive force, and that's when a casino outing is no longer entertainment.

The casino industry is held responsible for making sure that people for whom gambling is no longer fun can get help.

Last month, Harrah's Joliet Casino & Hotel held its annual "Responsible Gaming Week" to create awareness among the public and to reinforce company goals and programs among employees. The event was held in partnership with the American Gaming Association.

Lisa Arroyo of Harrah's Joliet's credit department coordinated the events that were held. She is proud of the fact that the casino's shift managers are specially trained "responsible gaming ambassadors" to whom guests of the property can go for advice.

"If ever a customer shows signs, or makes a direct statement, that they need help, our ambassadors meet with them and get involved," Arroyo said. "They can provide other options, education, and brochures. We can prohibit them from cashing checks and even can restrict them from receiving (promotional) mail."

Harrah's spokespersons maintain that the property is an entertainment facility not unlike a movie theater or a golf course, with the difference being that every piece of signage, direct mail and advertising has information about where help can be obtained.

The company's website (www.harrahs.com) includes information and statistics on addictions, including problem gambling, and provides links to the National Council on Problem Gambling and to the Harvard Medical School's 'Gambling – Your First Step to Change' self help tool kit.

Knowing that the word "gambling" often is associated with being a vice, the casino industry has worked hard and rather successfully to replace it with "gaming", which today also references the video games that people play, which, by the way, have nothing whatsoever to do with gambling.

Gambling or gaming, casino entertainment is enjoyed by more Americans than at any time in our nation's history. It remains fun for most, a problem for some, but no one can say the casino industry doesn't take a proactive stance in warning people about the danger signs and pointing them in the right direction should they require help.

CASINO NEWS: The minimum bet at one of the two new player friendly double-deck "pitch" blackjack tables in the high limit room at Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin was recently lowered from $200 to $100. The ability to double down on any two cards, double down after splitting, and the deep card penetration before shuffling make the game very attractive to players who can afford the stakes.

The September line-up in the poker room at Blue Chip Casino Hotel in Michigan City once again includes affordable no-limit Texas Hold'em tournaments every Friday (The Big Blue Challenge), Sunday (The Blue Chip Showdown), and Tuesday (The Blue Chip Shootout). Visit www.bluechipcasino.com or call 888-879-7711 for details.

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