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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Surprises Await Blue Chip Casino Visitors

17 October 2001

One of the under-appreciated and often overlooked dividends made possible by the Riverboat Gambling Act of February 1990 was the refocus of the Illinois Travel & Tourism industry on the historic cities situated along the waterways of our fair state.

Rock Island, Peoria, Elgin, Joliet, and Aurora were thriving centers of commerce and industry, as well as weekend getaways for the rich and famous, prior to the birth of the Jet Age. Once America’s roadways and highway systems made river traffic obsolete, and vacation destinations were opened up world-wide, Illinois’ historic river communities became victims of premature aging.

A primary purpose of the Riverboat Gambling Act was to infuse new economic life into the cities through increased tax bases and the influx of tourism and traffic. There’s no doubt that purpose has been served, but there are some other important perks that are sometimes forgotten.

People who have visited the cities during the last decade because of riverboat casino destinations have also been reintroduced to historic sites, the natural beauty of Illinois, quaint restaurants, pubs, and bed-and-breakfasts, as well as architectural landmarks and mansions that were once the homes of some of the most powerful families in the Midwest.

The same holds true for the state of Indiana. My wife, Georgette, and I recently rediscovered the resort town of Michigan City when we paid a visit to the Blue Chip Hotel & Casino for a weekend getaway. We hadn’t been there since just before the February 2000 opening of the property’s 188-room hotel complex. It turned out to be a rewarding experience.

The hotel was a delight. The standard rooms are spacious and include 25" TV, coffee maker, and hair dryer. There’s also an exercise room, indoor swimming pool, and two whirlpool spas. Parking is close and convenient. The upscale restaurant, formerly called Brio, has been renamed the Grille on Easy Street. Other dining options include the Blue Chip Buffet, Jackpot Deli & Presto Snack Shop, and the Ventura Lounge located in the pavilion.

The gambling vessel floats in a tiny inlet known as Trail Creek within walking distance of the Lake Michigan shoreline. The casino is pretty much standard fare. While I appreciated the availability of a $5 craps table with across the board 20-times odds, I was disappointed in the video poker product. There is a great selection of traditional reel slots and new video games, however.

The staff is friendly and the level of service is good. We may have caught the buffet for lunch on a bad day, but it wasn’t the quality we have come to expect of others in the Midwest riverboat gambling market.

The Blue Chip, as is the case with all riverboat gambling vessels in the state of Indiana at the present time, is bound by boarding schedules. Boarding begins on the odd hours and continues for half an hour.

The area surrounding the casino is home to a treasure of interesting sites for the whole family. Several blocks to the west is Lighthouse Place Outlet Mall. Along the lakeshore you’ll discover the Old Lighthouse Museum, Millennium Park, The Great Lakes Museum of Military History, the historic old Washington Park Zoo, and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

You’ll encounter a lot of history and interesting sights when you tour the surrounding area. The South Shore rail line, for example, runs right down the middle of Eleventh Street. It can be somewhat disconcerting to be driving down the street along side a train!

The zoo is a must-see. Organized in 1927 when a retired circus bear named Jake and several other animals were donated to the local fire department, the habitats and viewing pavilions were constructed as part of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930’s.

While it’s no Brookfield or Lincoln Park Zoo in size, scope, and amenities, Washington Park Zoo occupies a special place in our culture and deserves to be preserved. If you’re adventurous, take a climb to the top of the zoo’s observation tower and get a magnificent view of the Lake Michigan southern shore.

Michigan City and the Blue Chip Casino are a little over an hour’s drive away from Chicago. Call the casino at 888-879-7711 or visit on the Web at www.bluechipcasino.com for more information.

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