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Gambling News by Gambling Headquarters

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Inside Gaming Column: Fuel Prices Pinching Locals Casinos

 

Marketing gurus, in an ironic twist of fate, say the soaring price of gasoline is playing havoc with Las Vegas locals casinos more than it is with the Strip resorts that cater to drive-in traffic and air arrivals. The oft-cited reality is that Americans see vacations as a God-given right. The high cost of gasoline may even impel more visitors to Las Vegas as a cheap destination. But across the country, consumers are paying twice what they were a year ago for gasoline. And that's forcing other lifestyle choices. In Los Angeles, locals may forgo a trip to the movies or a dinner out. Here, they're cutting back on jaunts to casinos, whether to gamble, shop, dine or see a movie -- or so some say. Las Vegas attorney Bob Nersesian's new book, a kind of how-to guide for protecting yourself against the house in casinos, may be a winner with advantage gamblers, but it may not be a hit with casino operators. "Nevada hates you," Nersesian warns readers, "and merely tolerates you as a cost of doing business." It's a primer on what skilled or lucky gamblers should do if they "incur rousting, jailing, slander, handcuffing and banishment ... sometimes (for) just enjoying a night out." But it's a shocker for any novice about how serious hotel-casinos are about holding onto money they believe, rightly or wrongly, to be theirs.

Despite the taxicab shortage during holidays we're sure to see this Labor Day, you'd be right to guess Las Vegas has the country's toughest taxi regulations. Local drivers say they are prohibited from raising their voices with patrons. By comparison, New York City just got around to banning cabbies from driving in just their underwear.

Personal note: Sympathetic as I am to cabbies, I'd rather see a regulation requiring functional air conditioning than anything about dress codes.

Quebec and its 21 casinos are launching marketing drives to lure visitors from Europe, the bulk of whom would otherwise head for Las Vegas. A large share of the flights from Europe serving Las Vegas stop in Montreal or Toronto. And while Las Vegas is known as the faux capital of the world, witness Paris Las Vegas, Quebec is faux France to many visitors. Now, in an ironic twist of fate, Quebec could become a faux Las Vegas for European visitors.

What were the odds? A software engineer from Pacific, Mo., hit a royal flush on a Let it Ride machine on July 10 at the Imperial Palace Hotel. Duke Matlock won $25,000 aggregate plus $20,000 for playing the bonus. According to the Internet, the statistical odds of winning a royal flush in "Let It Ride" is 1 in 649,740.

Gaming Wire Editor Rod Smith can be reached by phone at 477-3893 or by e-mail at rsmith@reviewjournal.com.

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