Saturday, July 2, 2011
I don't gamble much which made the idea of going to a casino that much more exciting. I hadn't been to a casino in at least three years or more. So I figured, why not take the little woman and go and throw away a little money just for the heck of it? I mean, money doesn't have much value these days with the prices skyrocketing through the roof for gasoline, food, vacations and clothing. When you pay almost $10 for a "value meal" at McDonalds or at Burger King, it's time to rethink the whole value of money. And what better place to do that than at a casino where your money basically has no value whatsoever.
We decided on Jack Binion's Horseshoe Casino in Hammond Indiana. We'd been there before and I prefer it over the Empress, which is not very impressive, and the Grand Victoria, which is really too far away to drive. It was a Saturday night but I was surprised how crowded the place was. It was jam-packed. Full. Shoulder to shoulder. Every one of my favorite slot machines, the Wheel of Fortune, was taken (I think they have 14 of them in an island). So I walked around a bit and I was shocked at how things changed.
First of all, I had a hard time finding the $1 slot machines. They've been replaced. Years ago, you would see some Dime Machines and a couple of nickle machines. But this place was filled with Penny Machines. Yes, One Cent machines and there were lines waiting for seats. There were Two Center machines, too, and also Nickle Machines. I'm thinking, who walks around with a pocket full of pennies. But, that's the other thing that has changed -- no pun intended. The casino doesn't use "change" any more. You don't use coins. You put money in and you get worthless pieces of paper that you have to "cash in" at little Casino ATMs.
What a hassle. I liked it when I could walk out of a place with $400 in Silver Dollars. Well, we don't have many Silver Dollars any more. We have those gold colored dollars which are the size of half dollars.
The place was really disappointing. I finally got one of the Wheel of Fortune Machines and it turned out to be a good one .. I love getting the Wheel of Fortune and then spinning the wheel. It's rigged, though. The machine on; lands on 25 and 50. And once-in-a-while, a 75. That is not much when you can only pay for quarters. Yes. Crap. No, not dice. Crap. They didn't have a $1 Wheel of Fortune Machine. When I finally did land a 750, that was only $200 in quarters. What a waste of time.
I think the casinos make more money from the poor slobs who play pennies, nickles and dimes because it's so easy to lose change than it is to loose a dollar or more on each spin. And a lot of the people were slobs. I guess no one considers going to a casino a classy place. We were dressed up but I felt like I was walking down Skid Row or something. The place was skanky.
Ihad to try a Penny Slot. I figured $20 would be like playing a million dollars.But, I quickly discovered how misleading they are. You can bet the maximum and it's really $2 I thought the maximum bet of 20 meant pennies.
I don't mean to be mean to Horseshoe. The place has a great reputation. But gee wiz. Gte rid of those penny slots if you want people to come and drop some real cash. I left after donating $200, with more than $500 in my pocket that I had planned to play but just didn't think sitting there dropping quarters and nickles all night was worth the time or the effort. I mean, the Progressives -- the slot machines that are rigged to really rip you off -- offered astronomical winning pots of ... $125. Wow.
I had to wait in a long line of people who needed a bath badly until I could put my slips of paper into the machine only to find out that it was jammed and I had to go to another one. And then when it did pay out, it gave me $400 in crinkled fives and singles. And the dollars had B.O., too.
Okay. I don't care if you think I am being insensitive. There were people there that needed a bath, damn it! And if they don't care smelling like slobs, then I don't care about writing about them.
All in all it wasn't a fun time. The machines were broke too. I got one of the Club Cards but every time I put it in a machine, it wouldn't register at all. And after a while of trying to get it to work, you end up playing the machine anyway with no real credits to your name. But then, I figured if the place is filled with Penny Slots, I wonder what kind of food they offer at the buffet, which in the past was my favorite place to go? McDonalds? Burger King? Value meals?
So much for the gaming industry. And Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel thinks bringing a casino to Chicago is going to generate revenue? No. It will just create a hangout for the "out crowd."
Put some people at the door Jack and keep some of the riff-raff out. Get rid of some of the Penny Slots and bring back more $1 slots and put some $5 and $10 slots back in the gaming room.
-- Ray Hanania