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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Survey Says "Crown the Queen!"

3 September 2002

This columnist usually takes "best of" surveys with a grain of salt. There's always the danger of ballot stuffing. When concerted efforts are organized on behalf of special interests to take advantage of some free publicity, it's often difficult to separate fact from fiction.

One survey crossed my desk that made me take a second look: The 2002 Readers' Choice Awards for Riverboat and Land-based Casinos conducted among the readers of Midwest Gaming & Travel, a glossy, monthly consumer magazine with a circulation of 50,000 and a seven-state primary coverage area.

The magazine has a focused target audience of readers who are passionate about casino gambling. In the April 2002 issue, people were invited to select their favorite casinos in several gaming-related and hospitality categories. The complete results of the survey will be published in the August issue (log on to www.midwestgamingandtravel.com).

I received a preview of the results for readers' choices in the state of Illinois. The casinos in the Chicago-area were well represented, what with Harrah's Joliet leading the market with four first place awards, the Grand Victoria in Elgin and the Empress Casino Joliet tied with three each, followed by the Hollywood Casino Aurora with one (keeping in mind the survey was conducted prior to the grand opening of Hollywood's new, expanded facility).

Harrah's Joliet's awards included three of the most important: Favorite casino, best selection of slots, and best player's club. Empress Casino Joliet won the crucial best video poker category. The Grand Victoria was singled out for its pavilion amenities as well as the favorite casino buffet. Hollywood's Fairbanks Steakhouse was named the favorite in casino fine dining.

Whereas we all quite naturally tend to focus on the casinos in the Chicago-area, there is a lot more to the casino gambling industry in Illinois. There are riverboat casino destinations in Alton, East Peoria, Rock Island, Metropolis, and East St. Louis.

Midwest Gaming & Travel's survey makes it abundantly clear that among these statewide properties, the Casino Queen in East St. Louis is a consumer favorite, particularly in the on-property hotel category. The Casino Queen's Crown Hotel won accolades for favorite casino hotel, most comfortable hotel rooms, best hotel ambience, and best hotel amenities.

The Casino Queen's seven first place awards were tops in the state. It also won the friendliest dealers category, best selection of table games, and best live entertainment.

In spite of formidable competition from casinos across the Mississippi River in Missouri, the Casino Queen holds its own as the strongest Illinois gaming property outside of the Chicago area. It also is a prime example of the extent to which state and local government have come to depend on the casino gaming industry for tax revenues.

Gaming revenues from the Casino Queen account for a whopping 35 percent of the total budget of the city of East St. Louis. The casino was responsible for the development of the first shopping center in 20 years with a $9.5 million contribution. It contributed $4.8 million toward fire and police equipment and additional personnel, $12.5 million toward construction of a new community youth center, and another $9.3 million to rebuild the city's infrastructure. There are similar success stories in the other Illinois riverboat gaming cities.

The Casino Queen is the only Illinois casino to offer Pai Gow Poker among its table games mix. Payouts from its nickel, quarter, half-dollar, dollar, and five dollar slot machines were above the statewide average during the month of May. Little wonder it deserves the recognition it has received from Midwest Gaming & Travel magazine. On your next trip to St. Louis for a Cardinals baseball game or Rams football game, check out the "Queen."

Next Week: Survey results from Indiana and Iowa.

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