Thursday, July 28, 2005


My wife and I stole a night away from the kids for ourselves. She's always wanted to go to Las Vegas (me too, for that matter), but there wasn't enough time. So, we did the next best thing: A Riverboat Casino in Southern Indiana.

Neither of us had ever gambled before. I can't say that I'm a big fan of it, having left $70 at the casino, and never being "ahead" at any time. We didn't approach it as a way to make money, but rather as a form of entertainment ("let's see what this game is like", etc). Still, it would have been nicer to walk away with even $75 in my wallet (i.e., +$5) instead of nothing...

Casinos have been lobbying Ohio for some time now to allow operations in the state. After my experience, I would actually be in favor of it. I mean, there's always going to be problem gamblers, but right now, they travel to Detroit, Windsor (Ontario, Canada), Indiana, or Las Vegas to get their fix. If we had a casino or two in Ohio, then that money would at least stay in our state. And, depending on Ohio's (or the local municipality's) cut of the take, it could go a long way to help better education, roads, or whatever that money gets spent on. Maybe it could even lead to no state sales tax!??!

Also, Hotel-Casinos hire A LOT of people. I was surprised at just how many staffers we saw, and that doesn't count the behind-the-scenes staff. That is a lot of jobs that could be created in our state.

Some observations about this casino:

1. It's the amusement park for disabled people. Think about it: Cedar Point doesn't make sense for Great-Grandma or cousin Jim who got in a wreck and is now paralyzed from the waist down. But, sitting in front of a slot machine is actually enjoyable to a lot of people. There were wheelchairs EVERYWHERE!

2. $10 blackjack sucks when you only want to spent $20 total playing blackjack and you're not that good in the first place. It doesn't help that the dealer was pressuring me to make decisions. I would have played $5 blackjack, but the only $5 table was full.

3. Cheapskates like me should plan on gambling in the morning--the minimum bets are lower until noon. The $5 roulette that we played the night before was only $2 in the morning.

4. Roulette is probably what I consider "my game" since there is only a slight advantage to the house (the 0 and 00), but other than that, it's completely random, requiring no skill. But, lots of money would certainly help. We saw one guy come in, get $150 in chips, put it all on black, and walked away with nothing. One spin, and he was out. Another lady came in, got $200 in chips, and played numbers, (i.e., put $100 worth on various numbers or inside splits) and tripled her chips in only a couple of spins.

5. Dedicated gamblers who require oxygen around the clock don't care about being in a smoky casino.

6. Craps must be a complicated game, because it requires 3-4 staffers to run it, even if only 1 player is using the table. (We watched a little, but never played).

8. There are actually people out there who will play $100 slot machines (that's $100 per pull...yeah, I couldn't believe it either). There's even people who win doing this (pictures litter the entrance of $16,000 winners, etc).

9. Speaking of slots, that's what casinos are. Huge rooms full of slot machines. You can't escape the noise (it's like being in an arcade!). Slots, more slots, video poker, and then more slots. 1-cent, 5-cent, 25-cent, 50-cent, $1, $5, $10, $25, $50, and $100 slots. And not just simple "spin and see what lines up", but more like "Pick 1-5 lines, place a wager per line, and then spin". Takes about 20 spins or so before the "1-5" lines start to make sense. Start with penny slots if you want to understand this phenomenon.

10. Soft drinks are free (self serve at either end of the casino). Alcohol might be too, if you're sitting at a table game, but we didn't take the chance (already gave enough to "the house"). Waitresses wore very skimpy outfits, but probably appropriate for the environment.

Seems like everywhere we went, I was staring at Chick McGee or Drew Hasting's face. There's a Friends of the Bob and Tom Show (more) on August 13th, and the promo poster was posted in multiple places.