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Posts Tagged ‘Gaming’

Moments, Memories & Great Plates – Looking Back on 2008

Friday, January 2nd, 2009
A gorgeous view of the mountains and a moonlit Colorado River as seen from Harrah's Laughlin.

A gorgeous view of the mountains and a moonlit Colorado River as seen from Harrah's in Laughlin.

I think one of the best ways to recall a year is to sort through the photos I’ve taken over the past twelve months.  They bring back lots of great memories either through the specific image or by tweaking my brain into remembering what all happened on that occasion.  To break down a whole year into a few paragraphs isn’t easy, especially when I’m fortunate enough to say lots of great stuff happened in the past twelve months.  So rather than doing a monthly blow-by-blow, I chose to pick out some highlights from our year in gaming.

Best Casino “Hits”P.B. – Dealt four 4’s then hit for two out of three kickers on the draw playing Triple Double Bonus Spin Poker Deluxe™ with a payout of $1190.  C.C. – Dealt four 3’s and a kicker playing TDB Spin Poker Deluxe™ with a $1600 payout.

Best Discovery:  The Diamond Lounge patio over-looking the Colorado River at Harrah’s Laughlin, Nevada casino.  A great spot for relaxing with a drink, especially on a warm full-moon night. (more…)

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Election Results on State Gambling Questions

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Here’s a quick update on the post I did regarding gambling issues on the 2008 election ballot in several states.

Missouri — Proposition A passed and with its approval lifted the ” no more than $500 in losses every two-hours” spending limit imposed on casino players.

Ohio — No casino for my friends in Ohio.  Steve Wynn sighs with relief.  (more…)

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Gambling and The Election, Part 2: Gaming Issues in Ohio and Missouri Will Be Decided

Monday, November 3rd, 2008
Gambling issues take gaming decisions to the voters tomorrow.

Voters will have their say on gambling issues in several states.

Election 2008 sees some interesting gambling-related issues on ballots in several states.  Of these, two are of particular interest to me and here’s why.

This past summer, P.B. and I took a cross-country jaunt and stopped to stay and play at several mid-West casinos including Harrah’s St. Louis.  When we arrived at the casino, we were informed that we needed new player’s club cards and to obtain them, we had to produce picture ID’s plus sign the backs of our replacement cards.  We were told that we must insert these cards into the machines in order to play and that’s when we learned about the $500 loss limit.  Huh?  Yes, unique to Missouri, is a law that says a player cannot lose more than $500 in any two-hour period.  (The cards keep track of your play.)  (more…)

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Arizona Casino Revenue Falls in Third Quarter

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

Casino gaming revenue is down all over the country.  No surprise there considering the state of the economy.  In September alone, Biloxi casinos — hit with Hurricane Gustav and forced to close over a typically busy Labor Day Weekend — reported revenue down a whopping 26% from a year ago.  In Atlantic City, September brought the biggest monthy drop ever for the seaside gaming community – 15.1%.  And for August — which included most of the Labor Day weekend numbers — Nevada reported an 8.1% decrease with gaming capital, Las Vegas, down 7.4%.  I’m sure we’re going to see Nevada’s September numbers more in line with the double-digit declines reported above when they are released later this month.

And in Arizona, the state department of gaming, announced Friday that for the quarter ended September 30, tribal contributions from Indian gaming revenue — which are based on gaming earnings — to the state fell 9.5% from the same period a year ago.  

According to the Arizona Department of Gaming press release, “Arizona tribes’ combined contribution for the quarter…was approximately $25.0 million.  That’s down from $27.6 million in the same quarter a year before.”

So what do these revenue drops mean for casino visitors?  Look for more competition among gaming venues for your gambling dollars.  More and bigger promotions (think Harrah’s Ak-ChinWin Your Million“), enticing hotel rates all around the country, especially in room-laden Las Vegas, and lots of other events and ideas aimed at getting fannies into the gaming seats.

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“Favorite Slots” is a Hot Topic on TripAdvisor Las Vegas Forum

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

"Gold Fish" - a popular slot game from WMS Gaming.

For a spirited discussion on “favorite slot machines,” visit TripAdvisor and check out what people are talking about right now in regards to slot machines. This is one hot topic on TripAdvisor considering the original post asking Las Vegas visitors to name their favorite slots game is dated August 24th and the replies keep coming – six pages of them so far.

I don’t play slots too often but always stop and check out any new games I see  – think eBay®, Deal or No Deal® – and any games that seem to have a lot of people gathered ‘round.

From the topic replies, it looks like “Gold Fish” from WMS gaming is a hot slot favorite.  I mention this one specifically because P.B. and I walked by a double bank of the machines several times during our last stay at Paris Las Vegas and not once was there a machine open.  People were even hanging around waiting for machines to open up so they could play.  Hmm, based on its popularity, maybe we’ll check it out again when we go to Vegas later this month.

The hot new "Wizard of Oz" from WMS Gaming.

The hot new "Wizard of Oz" slot machine from WMS Gaming.

We recently saw this new game at Harrah’s Ak-Chin near Phoenix  – “The Wizard of Oz” from WMS Gaming (for information, click on the game icon in this cool virtual gameroom.)  Check out the high-backed spaceship seating for this game.  Here’s what the manufacturer says about it on their website:   “The Wizard of OzTM is the newest theme in the revolutionary “Sensory Immersion Gaming” product category, where players hear, see, and feel the experience, thanks to real-time 3D animation and our innovative gaming chair that features the BOSE® 3SpaceTM audio system and CPU-NXT®2 enhanced graphics.” Again, we didn’t get a chance to play since all the machines were taken but we will definitely play Wizard of Oz slots in the future — when we get the chance.

If you’re a slots player, I’d love to hear about your favorite game and where you play it.  Also, check out the thread on TripAdvisor and chime in with your recommendations.

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Travel Arizona – “Cliffs,” Canyons and Cottonwood Eats

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Greetings from Cliff Castle

Arizona offers lots of great travel options for players so when you can combine a casino trip with a train ride, spectacular scenery, a wealth of good food and a visit to a national monument, what’s not to like? Backstory – Last March, P.B. and I attended the Phoenix Suns’ “Suns and Stars Charity Event” at the Arizona Biltmore and bid on and won a travel package featuring two nights at the Best Western – Cottonwood and tickets for four people on the Verde Canyon Railroad. Using those two items, we put together a really fun trip with lots of indoor and outdoor activities – a trip that we highly recommend you consider for a quick getaway. (more…)

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“The Fort” Offers an AZ Getaway at a Great Rate

Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Entrance courtyard at the Radisson Fort McDowell.

Whether you are planning a visit to Phoenix or you live right here in the Valley, if you haven’t visited Fort McDowell Casino lately, now is the time to take advantage of a special player’s club discount and enjoy a fall stay at a great rate at the luxurious Radisson Fort McDowell Resort.  Spend the day enjoying the resort’s many amenities -spa, swimming pools, gourmet restaurant, golf at the nearby We-Ko-Pa Golf Club – then play the night away at the casino. (more…)

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Checked Your Mail Lately? Casino AZ Offers FREE Breakfast or Dinner

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Keeping up their summer promotions program, Casino Arizona has sent out an October flyer to Cashback Players Club members with coupons for cash ($5 & $10*), a free meal, free travel blanket and extra entries into the casino’s new “Win A Year on Easy Street” prize drawings.  (Just another example of how the downturn in the economy is pushing casinos to offer more incentives in an effort to get players in the doors.) 

P.B. and I took advantage of last month’s offer and had lunch on the casino at their Willows Restaurant at the McKellips & 101 location.  Choosing from a special coupon menu, I had the fried shrimp platter while P.B. had the Caesar steak wrap with sweet potato fries.  (The menu also featured a breakfast platter.)  Both entrees were actually quite good and the service was friendly if a bit slow.  The platter of fried shrimp was especially generous considering the price!  The fresh-cut fries and homemade coleslaw were good accompaniments to the shrimp and P.B.’s sweet potato fries were perfectly cooked.   We plan on using this month’s “free dinner” coupons at the Blue Coyote Restaurant at the Indian Bend location and we’ll be sure to report on that later. 

And for slots players, be sure to check out this month’s flyer for days and times when you can earn double or even triple points for play.  If the times work with your schedule, you might as well rack up twice or three times as many “Cashback” points for playing your favorite games.

*  Check coupons for special times and requirements.

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Make Your Casino Visits More Fun with These 5 Great Tips!

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

 

The names may change but the goal is the same - keep players coming back to the casino!

The names may change but the goal is the same - keep players coming back to the casino!

•1.       Sign Up for Players Club Cards

                JOIN THE CASINO PLAYERS CLUB and USE THE CARD whenever and wherever you gamble.  Casinos love visitors who play and they want to see you coming back to their casino, not the one across the street, not the one across town.  That’s why you’ll find a “promotions club” at almost every casino you visit.  While these clubs go by various catchy names, they all exist to offer “comps” – based on play levels – that reward players for both machines and table games.  Free rooms, meals, gifts, tournament entries, cash, show tickets and more are given out to reward valuable players and further instill loyalty.  Check out the post on “Comps”   to learn more about how and why to use cards and to see some of the gift booty P.B. and I have gotten for playing with our various club cards.

•2.       Dress for Comfort

                One refrain I hear over and over again in every casino – “Why is it always so cold in here?”  It can be 110 degrees on The Strip in LV or in the Arizona desert and it will still be freezing inside the casinos.  I have heard that the machines function better in low temperatures (just like computers) and I have heard that keeping it a bit chilly keeps players more awake – whether either reason is true doesn’t really matter when you are shivering in your sleeveless top, short shorts and sandals.  Dress appropriately for the cool interiors and, if you plan on playing for a while, take a light sweater or wrap to fend off the inevitable blasts of cold air.  For the guys, a shirt with sleeves that can be rolled up or down is a logical choice.

•3.       Groove to Your Own Beat

                My Apple iPod® goes just about everywhere with me and it’s always in my purse when I hit the casino.  First, I love my music – which is not something I can always say about every casino’s choice of entertainment – and, even better, this trusty little device has saved me on more than one occasion from having to chat with a neighboring player whom I really didn’t want to talk to.  Just put the audio plugs into your ears and you, too, can feign selective hearing as needed.

•4.       Enjoy Your Own Drinks

                No, I am not saying you should BYOB to your local casino but I have become addicted to those single-serve drink packets that you can mix into bottled water.   Some of my favorite flavors are Peach Mango Green Tea and Cherry Pomegranate from Crystal Light® and the Grape Flavor with Vitamins from Propel®.  Since the choice of soft drinks is sometimes pretty limited at casinos, I keep a stash of different drink mix flavors in my purse or I’ll just throw a couple of the slender packets into my pocket.  When I’m ready for a sip, I simply ask the kind drink server to bring me a bottle of plain cold water, add the dry mix, shake and I’m happy.

•5.       Ka-Ching, not Ka-Choooo!  Keeping it Clean

                I think of slot and poker machines much the same way as the exercise machines I use at the gym – better to use a quick rinse with hand sanitizer before and after using them than risk getting a cold from the previous patron.  I’m not a total “germaphobe” but I’ve seen enough people coughing and sneezing while playing the machines to know that a quick squirt of sanitizer never hurts.  A small bottle of Purell® and I’m good to go.

 Next week – 5 More Tips for Casino-Goers

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Casino Comps Sweeten the Deal

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Some of our casino comp "booty" including a Coach® Swing Bag, Sony PSP®, and more.

So, what exactly are “comps”? The term comps is short for complimentary items or “freebies” – those things that a casino literally gives away to regular players. In the competitive casino market, comps have become a favorite marketing tool for both public and Native American gaming venues. Here’s a list of just some of the comps regularly bestowed upon players to encourage casino loyalty and future visits.

  • § Free Drinks and Meals
  • § Free Rooms and/or Room Upgrades
  • § Spa Services
  • § Golf Packages
  • § Tickets to Shows, Concerts, Sporting Events
  • § Everyone’s favorite – CASH
  • § Gift Cards, Gas Cards
  • § Invites to Free Slot, Video Poker and Table Game Tournaments
  • § Private Shopping Events with “Comp Dollars”
  • § Merchandise such as Designer Handbags and Sunglasses, High-End Electronics, Fine Crystal, Jewelry and more

The first step to being eligible for comp rewards is, for most players, registration with the casino’s players club. I am always amazed when I see SO MANY players – some of them casino regulars! – not taking advantage of a casino’s players club membership. Make this your rule – do not put any money into a machine or down on a table without using a player’s club card! Also, even if you don’t plan on playing, go ahead and register and get a player’s card so you are in the casino’s database and have a chance at getting some of the special offers mailed to members who are active players. A casino can’t reward you if they don’t know who you are or how to contact you!

To sign up, ask a floor attendant or casino employee for directions to the player’s club or promotions desk. There, you’ll fill out an application and receive your cards (ask for two now and you’ll have a back-up if one get lost or de-magnetized.) Be sure to ask about special offers for new members as you’ll find that lots of casinos have special “sign-up rewards” like cash or match play just for signing up. Your new cards should come with some printed info that will tell you how you accumulate points and what you can redeem them for once you have them. You can also check out the casino’s website for club card information.

When you are ready to play using your new card, you’ll find a slot on the machine where you insert it followed, most times, with an LED display telling you the card is working.  Usually, the lights around the card slot will also turn green letting you know the card is working. A quick note here – make sure the card is working before playing or you won’t get credit for the money you spend playing.

Join the club, rack up some points and watch the great offers start to flood your mailbox.

Join the club, rack up some points and watch the great offers start to flood your mailbox.

Cashing in on your play can be lots of fun and profitable considering the cool items casinos are offering these days. We recently had an offer from Paris for a comped three-night stay plus a free Nintendo Wii! Considering the popularity and scarcity of those, you can imagine how quickly that offer was snapped up. So now you know why I say do not put any money into a machine or down on a table without using a player’s club card!

No on can talk about casino comps without mentioning Jean Scott, “The Queen of Comps”, and the author of “The Frugal Gambler” along with other great books.  She currently writes a fun and informative blog here on the excellent Anthony Curtis’ Las Vegas Advisor website.

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