Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year, and normally I don't make resolutions, save for 'eat more vegetables.' And, despite what they believe in the South, Macaroni and Cheese is NOT a vegetable.

But 2007 was a doozy for me -- a time of great change, and great loss. And yes, I mean slot losses.

So, I will resolve to eat more vegetables, and play less.

Thankfully, I can get my veggies free at the buffet, but of course that means walking into a casino.

It won't be easy. Nary a day goes by that I don't play the slots. It's become a habit, but rules and habits were made to be broken. As my habit has left me broke, it's time to turn the tables.

Of course I have three more days to indulge.

The Final Indignity -- Another F*cked up Bud

Someone up there is trying to send me a message. Last night, yet AGAIN, a cocktail waitress at Red Rock refused to serve me a Bud, a Budweiser beer, the most common and simplest of all Beverage choices.

To make matters worse, I was dying for a drink. Here's how it all went down. I visited the Bellagio to take in the Conservatory, which was sort of a disappointment, as it seemed sort of slapped together from former Holiday installations. I lost a few bucks playing some Bally games I hadn't seen before, I believe one was called "Cashin' In" and the other had a Scottish theme. I never got a drink, but the night was young.

Then I headed down the strip -- the Frontier is nearly gone, with only the front tower (about 6 stories) and the sign still standing. It is weird to see the vast expanse of darkness where the Frontier and the Stardust once stood, though cranes are now rising from the Stardust property.

I went to Circus Circus to play the WMS "King Midas" machine. I tried to stay calm in the sea of families and children, and was proud of myself for maintaining my composure. I got ahead on King Midas, but then foolishly put my winnings back and lost $40 more. I played for about an hour and never got a drink.

Next stop was Binion's to play my free play. I again tried a Bally's game "Samurai Something or Other" -- it's not really called that, but you get the picture. I was proud to leave with $15 in hand, but still no drink. I walked over to the California where I parked, but decided to check out one of my favorite casinos for it's buffet and decor -- Main Street Station. Unfortunately, no new games over there, still I put $5 in a "Hot Hot Jackpot" and left again, stone cold sober.

So I made the long drive up Alta to Red Rock Casino as the Jumbo Jackpot was in the $147,000 range and at the very least a free cheeseburger awaited me there. I sat down at WMS' "Pay Dirt" machine and was down $15 before I finally flagged down a waitress. I smiled sweetly, gave her my order, and even watched her write it down. At this point I was dying of thirst and hungry to boot.

The waitress finally returned with a very full tray and walked right by me. After she served a couple across from me, I got her attention (of course I had my tip ready and in full view) and asked for my Budweiser. She looked at her tray, said "Nope, No Buds, only Bud Lights -- sorry I'll bring it next time." I should have killed her right then and there. I certainly felt like it.

It's a conspiracy, plain and simple . . . I'm not sure if it includes the cocktail waitresses (or perhaps they are just as dumb as they look), the bartenders, Red Rock management, Stations Casinos and God, but truly, truly I am being targetted.

I got up controlling my anger and headed into the cafe for a cheeseburger and a Budweiser, I had to pay for the beer, but at least the meal was free.

As soon as I left, of course, the Jumbo Jackpot hit.

From now on, I'm ordering Champagne.

Friday, December 28, 2007

No FIRM Soft Opening for Palazzo, Crikey!

The Review-Journal chimed in on the delays for the opening of Palazzo today -- apparently the management won't commit to a firm soft opening date. I got a kick out of that. Jay Z's 40/40 club is slated to open Sunday night, December 30th though.

I feel a trip to the strip coming on. Many folks who live in Las Vegas NEVER go to the strip, and they are proud of it. Not me, at least not yet. Granted I don't play much there, not so much because I'm unlucky, I'm unlucky everywhere, it's more on principal of the comps, or lack thereof. Like DeNiro as Lefty Rosenthal says in the movie "Casino" -- That's the truth about Las Vegas, it's all designed to get your money, the players don't stand a chance.

So I'll check out the conservatory at the Bellagio, cruise by to see the wreckage that once was the New Frontier, and stop by Circus Circus to play the one slot machine I like -- King Midas.
"King Midas" is an older WMS machine in the "Treasure Tales" Series. It has quite a few bonus rounds, and special features -- I've played this particular machine at Circus Circus (the ONLY machine I have found in Las Vegas) three times now and I haven't lost yet.

I'll probably head downtown to play my $15 free play at Binion's -- and if the mood strikes swing by Red Rock for a free burger.

Well, if I'm going to do all that, I best be going. One thing though, is sticking in my craw -- those damn "Lightning Box" games by IGT.

My google search for Lightning Box Slot Machines turned up nothing, but my Super Happy Fortune Cat was useful. Here is a link to a journal that describes the experience of watching someone else play the machines - It's a long entry, so if you don't want the complete rundown of this person's Vegas trip scroll down to the Fortune Cat logo. They include a link to the IGT site -- I should have know from the "Crikey!" that these games were made in Australia -- perhaps James Packer has something to do with it.

Sometimes I forget that there is a world of slot machines and casinos out there. Something designed for a particular market might filter into another. I've never been to Macau or down under, or South Africa, or Dubai (do they gamble in Dubai?) but it holds true that fools are abundant the world over.

This fool is just trying to live a little before she dies, which leads me to the subject of New Years' Eve . . . perhaps I'll address that tomorrow.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Just When the Heck Will the Palazzo Open?

The Palazzo is a much bally-hooed addition to the Venetian that is slated to open very soon. Well, actually from earlier reports it should already be open. But that's the "soft opening" mind you, which could have been December 20th, or December 28th, but now it is anyone's guess between now and the official opening of January 17th.

At one point, the website was taking room reservations beginning December 28th which would have been nice for New Years' Eve revelers. Apparently those reservations were shifted to the Venetian, as the workers still labor on the Palazzo.

I went by the joint from December 5th - 16th as I took in the NFR Rodeo and it's Country Christmas retail trade show at the Sands' convention facility. I could have told you then there was no way the doors would open before January 1st.

There is something exciting though, about seeing the final touches applied to yet another overblown temple to greed.

In fact now, this slot jockey is rather chomping at the bit to see the interior, and if it has anything to offer me. It's sister property the Venetian has a simply awful slot selection, and there is little chance of winning anything there, or even breaking even. I have no trouble walking right through the casino to get to my destination.

The Palazzo will feature a float in this year's Rose Parade, and that is a first for a Vegas casino.

It would be nice if it would enter a float in Las Vegas' wild and woolly Helldorado parade, a tradition that all the casinos have abandoned. In days of yore, Vegas casinos would compete for bragging rights, and dazzle the crowds with their creations. Just check out all the slides the UNLV research library has of the floats (sorry, they don't link to the actual pictures). Here is a link to the info about Helldorado Days from the Elks website. Unfortunately, I doubt Helldorado Days and the parade will ever return to it's glory days, it was cancelled in the late 1990's until brought back for the Las Vegas Centennial in 2005.

I'll give you the latest on the Palazzo when I get it, and will check it out at first opportunity. My expectations are low, but you never know . . .

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas at the Casino, or More Reasons to Hate Red Rock

I was sucked in by yet another deceptive Red Rock Casino marketing ploy today, and ended up stomping out of the casino again. Merry F*cking Christmas.

It looked to me from the mailer that I would receive free play today, but alas as is most of the Stations Casino promotions -- they are hardly ever what they seem.

So I had no free play, and the first machine I tried had sticky buttons, on the verge of malfunctioning. A couple of lumps were sitting at the machines I wanted to play, they weren't playing them mind you, just resting their bones, and they never left for the duration of my stay.

I tried some really crappy *new* IGT machines, and they were awful. IGT machines are getting worse and worse, and I can't win on them to save my life. I played "Super Happy Fortune Cat" and "Radar Riches" -- both machines are a venture between IGT and a company named "Lightning Box" presumably from Japan judging by the moronic messages that pop up when you have scored. Stuff like "Laughing Duck" ???!!! and "Crikey" and "Howzat" signify a win. I have no idea who they are designing these machines for, but they certainly insult my intelligence.

So I keep losing, and to top it off I can't get a drink. When I finally do flag down a cocktail waitress, she takes forever to return and then get this -- she says "Budweiser?" and hands me a COORS LIGHT! I say "No, I said Budweiser" and hand the offending beer back to her. Naturally, she doesn't have a Budweiser, or even a friggin' Bud Light on her tray. She says "Oh, I couldn't get that" in her thick Russian-like accent, like the bar guy wasn't handing out Anheiser- Busch products today. She says she will return with it, and I say forget it, I'm leaving. That after losing more than $50 in a stupid IGT "Wolf Run" machine waiting for my drink.

Come the New Year, I may not be gambling at all -- or if I do it will be strictly on free play. That is how bad my luck, and my treatment at most casinos in town has been.

Harrah's Finally Private, Who Cares?

So the big news is Harrah's has finally gone private, the deal getting it's last approvals. Now they are free to rape and pillage their customers and the Vegas Strip without the prying eyes of the New York stock exchange.

But really, what's new and who cares? In a Las Vegas Sun article entitled "Harrah's can chase high rollers or stay mid market -- Executives face tough choice but have new owners' backing" Liz Benston gives us the rundown.

It is a well written story about a company in transition, with plenty of background on the Private Equity firms that are now holding the reins. I read the whole darn thing, and suggest you do the same. Then we can all put our two cents in on what Harrah's will do. Of course, they're private now, so they don't have to tell us. It's any body's guess.

One thing that seems fairly concrete is the expansion to Caesars Palace, the most overly expanded casino resort in history. I miss the days when you could see four decades of design in the properties many different facades. Now it is a fairly congruous 1990's Roman theme light. The funny thing is, if they had just kept part of the 1960's modern grating they'd fit right in with Vegas' modern cum slightly mid century retro design craze going on right now. But that's always the way, just when you destroy it, it comes right back in spades.

What does all this mean for the slot jockey? Personally I stopped playing at Harrah's as soon as I became a local. The slot selection is poor, the machines are tight, and the comps tighter. However when I travelled to Vegas I was known to stay at Harrah's properties when the price was right. I fit into the mid-level market scenario and even stayed at Caesars once on a December deal, doing my Christmas shopping in the Forum shops.

I really don't give a rat's ass if Harrah's revamps their East Strip properties or not. They've stripped Imperial Palace of it's Slot Club, and I'm pretty pissed off about it. They can do as they please, but it won't be on my nickel. I'm through with Harrah's. There you have it Gary Loveman -- put that in your privatized pipe and smoke it.

Red Rock's Ham Scam

On Sunday, Red Rock Casino had a Hormel Spiral Ham giveaway. This proved to be another heartwrenching exercise in futility for me, not as disappointing as the disastrous Robe giveaway, but frustrating as hell none the less.

The rules seemed simple -- earn 1,000 points and pick up a ham. I learned from the Robe debacle to start the process early, lest they run out of hams the second I earn my 1,000th point.

When I entered the casino around 3:00p.m. and sat down at my first slot machine, I made a note of my points. I had 17, 472 to be exact. When the counter on the slot machine reached 18,472 I could run over to the redemption desk and grab my ham.

A few hours later I had 18,630 points. I'm not sure how I ran over, I must have been sucked in by the "Love Boat's" spell.

I hurried over to the ham desk and was delighted to see many hams waiting. Finally, the coveted Christmas pork would be mine!

I handed the attendant my card to swipe, and she told me with a look of derision that I hadn't earned enough points. I couldn't believe it. I told her I most certainly HAD earned 1,000 points, and what was the deal? She gave me the standard 'I just work here and I hate it look', swiped my card again and said I had only earned 386 points.

I was crushed, and angry. Much like the horrible day Red Rock ran out of robes, I marched over to the slot club booth for an explanation.

I got the same closed response there -- by their accounts I had only earned 386 points, and no explanation as to why the slot machines showed I had earned over 1,000 was given. I asked if multipliers could factor into the discrepancy and got no answer there as well. The guy simply handed me back my card with the same 'I just work here and hate it look', mixed with a little 'you can't fight city hall or Stations Casinos.' I said 'I am so done with this place' and stomped out.

I don't even like ham.

The moral of the story is -- besides God and Stations Casinos hate me -- never, ever play for a point based "freebie". It's all rigged against you, and as usual the house always wins.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Slot Machine Hygiene -- Cold and Flu Season Hits the Casino

Well, I didn't get a flu shot this year . . . and I've picked up my first virus of the season. It's not so bad, really . . . just a sore throat resulting in a whiskey tenor. Do I think I picked it up from a slot machine? Absolutely.

You see, casinos are a veritable hot bed of infection. Certainly you've heard the stories of the germs lurking in hotel rooms, and the nasty Norovirus outbreaks on cruise ships. I bet you've even been grossed out at the Buffet, especially on king crab night, watching people lick their gluttonous chops and fingers and then return again and again to handle the serving tools. How often do you ponder the cleanliness of your slot machine? If you're like me, often.

I'm a pretty consistent hand washer to begin with, not compulsive, but thorough. I probably wash my hands five to ten times a day, depending on what I'm doing, and where I've been. Granted I'm not phobic like Howard Hughes, just cautious.

In the summer I developed a mysterious rash in the webs of my fingers, and palms of my hands. It was barely noticeable, but present none the same, and I had no idea what it could be. One evening I was watching the news, and a short story grabbed my attention. An outbreak of SCABIES was being linked to more International travelers in casinos, and the popularity of slot machines! I never found an internet link to this story, but as I live alone with little or no contact with other people, I believed my slot habit to be the culprit.

I began to really ponder slot machine hygiene, and began to look for way to disinfect the surfaces I touched so frequently.

I thought about the towelettes that used to be so prevelant when slot machines coughed out real coins. They could be found here and there, and I found the company that makes them online. Mostly now, you will find the generic looking "Winners" towelettes made by Sanfacon Mills -- but back in the day every casino had customized designs. It's not really clear what is in the towelette to combat germs, although some appear to have alcohol as an ingredient.

I waited for the Global Gaming Expo to find a suitable product, and I wasn't disappointed. A company named Germstar appears to have a system that would work well on the casino floor. The representative told me that mostly they are being used in the back of the house and are finding their way into the dealer pits, but casinos have been reluctant to make them available to the players. The active ingredient is rubbing alcohol, and I was given a couple of sample bottles of the citrus scented spray.

I began to look around casinos in Vegas and did spot a few of the units in place in the pits. I also found a couple in the Women's bathroom in the Star Trek casino at the Hilton.

I must admit, I have not been carrying around my spray bottle in my purse, falling on my old habits. I suppose I feel my hand washing is enough, after all, I do visit the restrooms at least once or twice in a slot session and wash up thoroughly there.

I do wonder how effective the folks that clean the slots are, with their rags and such. Do they wipe down the slots with a different rag than the area between them? Are they really just spreading more germs around? I've never really watched the process close enough to guess.

The good news is my scabies cleared up, and in time my cold will too. But if you ever meet me, and refrain from shaking my hand, I completely understand.

Bally Reverses Losses for Shareholders, Players Still Lose

Yesterday the Review Journal ran a story entitled "Bally Technology Reverses Quarterly Losses" -- apparently Bally is selling slot machines and making up with their shareholders.

"The company credited increased game sales for the quarterly earnings jump. Bally sold 5,151 games in the quarter, compared with 3,427 slot machines in the same period a year ago. Those games also came with a higher average price; $13,275 per game compared with $12,011 last year. "We are very pleased with our continued improvement in both business momentum and margins in all the key parts of our business," Bally Chief Executive Officer Richard Haddrill said."

I've never been a fan of Bally slot machines, but they are on the floor, and I have played them.
Here is a link to their website

My favorite part of the Bally's booth at G2E were the bright shiny red shopping bags they were giving away. I showed little interest in their slot machines, and couldn't even tell you about their new offerings.

Their old offerings I know plenty about. I was sucked into the S&W Green Stamp machines but could never come out ahead with them. I've played "Hot Shot", and even tried "Golden Monkey", in fact I've probably tried all their games at one point or another.

One thing I will say I like about the Bally games is their large screens -- perfect for an aging slot jockey whose eyesight isn't what it used to be.

I did learn something new from the Bally's website, and that is that they appear to rule the gaming market in Washington state, and many IGT and WMS machines appear in that repetouire that they control.

Of course, I can't really speak of Bally's without delving into their long and storied past - here is the Wikipedia entry that covers that -

So, it would make sense that Bally's would rebound, as they have plenty of times before. Unfortunately, as a slot jockey, I have not been so lucky on their machines. To make matters worse, I find their machines simplistic and rather boring.

For a slot machine pioneer such as Bally's trailing the pack won't keep a large number of their machines on the floor, and I predict their stock to be (to borrow the industry term) "volatile".

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Slot Jockey Etiquette

I'm constantly amazed by the manners and lack thereof of my fellow slotplayers.

I understand that casinos are stressful environments and players last nerves are continually being worked.

Still, they are public places, and a code of behavior should be observed.

Last night I encountered all sorts of slot players' dos and don'ts --

DO -- Ask politely if a machine is being played before sitting down between two people, especially if they are having a conversation.

DON'T -- Play two machines, and become indignant if someone tries to sit down at one of them.

DO -- Adjust the volume on your machine at a comfortable level if someone is sitting next to you.

DON'T -- Sit right down next to someone who is not smoking, and light up like you own the joint, before asking politely if they mind if you smoke.

DO -- Decline from smoking, or move to another area if they are bothered -- they were there first.

DO -- Try to have change ($1 bills) for your cocktail waitress, and have the tip ready when she returns.

DON'T -- Swear out loud and bang on your machine, unless you are in an uncrowded area, or you have cleared your behavior with your neighbors. Most slot players understand the frustration factor and will overlook your outbursts, but keep the mood as light as possible.

DON'T -- Ask your neighbor to "watch" your machine for you while you take a bathroom or ATM break. They may want to leave their machine while you are away.

DO -- If you need to leave but want to reserve your machine, ticket out your balance, and tip your chair onto the machine -- the slot player's universal code for "I'll be back."

I'll add to this list as the need arises, but for now, remember to mind your manners.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Advent of Video Gaming Style Slots

The Las Vegas Sun had an interesting article today entitled "Slots for a new generation --
Video-game enthusiasts seen as customers for slots that ultimately might reward skillful play."

As I've become increasingly bored with the slots on the casino floors, I welcome any progression toward "fully-interactive" games.

I've played Bally's "Pong" game, and it is as primitive as it's namesake. The skill-based feature bonus round only awards an extra 15 (or maybe 25 -- I can't quite remember) credits for winning the ping-pong game with the slot machine. The Atari logo random bonus, with mystery wilds, pays much better. Even though this machine hasn't held my attention, or that of the slot going public (judging from the empty seats), it is a step in the right direction. I even think the Atari Pong concept/theme was a wise choice to broach the bridge between video games and video slots.

I am eagerly awaiting Williams' Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" machines, with their video game- style wild ride through the streets of San Francisco. I was happy the FedEx guy left WMS' latest catalog on my doorstep yesterday, but was disappointed to see that the "Dirty Harry" machines were not listed. I got the impression at the Global Gaming Expo that these machines were part of the "Sensory Immersion" line and would soon join "Top Gun" and the "Wizard of Oz" on the floor.

The WMS catalog did give me hope that "Money Burst", "Rotating Wild" and "Spinning Streak" games may be available, and headed to a casino near me. As I've mentioned before I'm about played out on the current crop of machines, and can't wait for new ways to lose (um, I mean wager) my money.

My guess is that skill-based gaming of the future won't be any more skill-based than say, video poker. Casinos are masters at cashing in on the gap between perception and reality, and the slot machines will always reflect that. In short, you may think you have a chance to win, but you are really just paying dearly for the dream.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Guaranteed Play Not Catching On, but Still Being Crammed Down Our Throats

Yesterday I read an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal about the "Guaranteed Play" machines not performing as expected, due to the slot playing public being leery of the whole concept.

For the life of me, today I can't find a link to the article -- perhaps it has been removed from the website -- but trust me, it was there, and I'm not just writing this as a "I told you so!" moment.

The article did say that IGT and Stations Casinos were not giving up on the machines, and would boldly press forward with the concept. They compared it to the TITO (ticket in, ticket out) technology which was slow to be trusted. I find this comparison highly amusing, as slot players warmed to the TITO machines as soon as they realized they didn't have to tote heavy buckets of coins around -- for me that took about two minutes.

In a related issue Doc Schwartz over at reports on a crew of wiley insiders who figured a way to rip-off their employers through a ticket slot scheme. It seems fairly sophisticated and lucrative, and I have to applaud the skimmers ingenuity. Schwartz goes on to question the stated figure of casinos' skim loss of 6% -- it does seem extremely high in the light that corporate gaming nickel and dimes every aspect of their industry.

At any rate, "Guaranteed Play" is no TITO, and IGT and Stations is fooling themselves if they think they can cram an unpopular slot concept down a slot jockey's throat. They can lead our horses to water, but they can't make us drink.

Cannery Casinos Bought by Aussie Whale James Packer

This news came out of nowhere -- Cannery Casinos is being purchased by notorious Australian whale and Casino Operator James (son of late Kerry) Packer. Another American Casino lost to a damn foreigner. There I said it. This really stinks, but apparently Packer's money doesn't.

Sure Packer has long had his sights on Vegas, and American gaming -- he is buying into the Crown project, and working on the Fountainebleau -- but the Cannery deal is a shocker to me.,25197,22916178-2702,00.html

So us lowly locals see another Casino swallowed by a foreign corporation.

I've already stopped playing at the Rampart, run by Cannery -- I couldn't win or break even there to save my life, their slot selection sucks, and they quit sending me my free play and buffet. The namesake Cannery Casino is larger and more loser friendly with their promotions, but their location in North Vegas makes it too far for me to travel for 5X play.

This week I've found my playing options severely limited, what with the Imperial Palace finally being swallowed by Harrah's and now this news of Cannery Casinos being bought by Packer putting the final nail in their coffin.

It is becoming harder and harder for me to play everyday. It seems I've hit that point, where the corporate casinos have finally killed the golden goose. This slot jockey may have to hang up my silver spurs, and watch a movie tonight.

A Sad Day Indeed - IP Changes to Harrah's Total Rewards

I used to love Imperial Palace on the Strip in Las Vegas. When I was living out of state, they used to send me the most incredible deals -- cheap rooms, plus a fun book that had two free buffets, and four free drinks, along with match play, tournament play, freebies to the IP Car Collection, and drawing tickets.

Sure the hotel was old, with a layout so convoluted that I still hadn't quite figured it out after staying there probably 20 times, the elevators were slow, and the beds had no blankets -- but the comps were generous, the food was edible, and most importantly, the slots were relatively loose for the Strip.

And of course, you couldn't beat the location, right across from Caesars and within walking distance of 80% of the major resort casinos in Las Vegas.

Imperial Palace was a budget minded gambler's dream. But alas, all good things must come to an end, and for me, yesterday it did. I was on the strip with an hour to kill before rush hour calmed down, and decided to check in with my old friend.

I sat down at a machine as a waitress was walking by and ordered a beer. The machine would not take my player's card, and kept saying "Reinsert Card." I reinserted my card over and over, but to no avail. I tried another machine, and another with no luck. The waitress walked right by me with my beer, and I became increasingly frustrated. I had about $4 in comps from previous play, which could have gotten me a slice of pizza or a burger upstairs, but I knew something was terribly wrong, and I would have to visit the player's club. I grabbed my stray beer at the bar, and headed on over to the desk. That's when the bad news hit me like a ton of bricks -- I was told the IP cards were obsolete, and had been switched over to Harrah's Total Rewards.

I knew this day was coming eventually, as Harrah's has owned Imperial Palace for about a year, but I had missed the memo. I was told the switch occurred about a week ago. I was crushed -- I absolutely hate Harrah's Total Rewards, which should be called Harrah's Total Ripoff.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

An Icon Gone but Not Forgotten, Evel Knievel and his Slots

The guy who never said die, finally did.

If you looked up Icon in the dictionary you might see a picture of Evel. I'm reminded of the "What Becomes a Legend Most?" ad campaigns for Blackglama mink from the 1970's. I don't think Mr. Knievel ever draped ranch raised dead animal skins over his red white and blue leather get-up, but it would have made perfect sense. Evel was certainly a legend, in fact the English language could use a few more words to pin on the daredevil. He was completely original, and certainly invented himself. In a time when the U.S.A. was taking a beating, Evel came back time and time again after knocking on death's door. He was a hero, a flesh, blood, and bone man who refused to give up.

I once stood for hours in the cold of a downtown Vegas winter night to get Evel's autograph. It was only a few years ago, and they were taping the promos for "American Gladiators" if I remember correctly. I'm not one to be starstruck or collect autographs, but Evel was special.

He had his own slot machine, and it that doesn't make you an icon, well I don't know what does.

Here are few links you might enjoy. I haven't been able to find any Evel slots to play this week, but if I do, I'll slip in a $20 and revel in the voice of an American Master.

More Good News/Bad News for Server Based Gaming

It seems the casino slot honchos were getting mixed messages about the beauty of Server Based gaming at G2E last month, as this Review-Journal article entitled "Flashier slots revel in their day at G2E, but patrons will have to wait for games" states.

Server Based gaming was touted as everything from an enhanced experience for the player to a real revenue God-send, but the most important questions regarding time and money essentially went unanswered.

So the good news is Server Based gaming is still a ways away, and the bad news is new slots will be slow to debut on the casino floor.

Of course, the casino operators are much more concerned with revenue per square foot, than "enhancing the player experience", which I suppose is a euphenism for new ways to fleece old sheep.

I'm personally becoming so bored with the current slot selections, and the reality of always LOSING, that it becomes more work than play for me to hang out in a casino. I've crossed so many casinos off my list, and have even been ignoring $10 free slot play in some cases. It is going to take a free buffet, free play, AND new machines to get me in the door.

So, my word to the operators is -- let Server Based machines develop in their own sweet time, but please, please get the new slots that are available, like Williams "Dirty Harry," "Money Burst," and "Rotating Wilds" on the floor.

Oxygen Tanks and Smoke Filled Casinos Dangerous Mix

Well, here is a horrifying bit of local news filled with graphic detail -- "Man, woman seriously burned in fire -- Cigarette sparks oxygen tank blaze; clothes melt to his body"

Just like that proverbial wreck, you have to look.

It seems oxygen tanks and cigarette smoking are a very dangerous mix indeed. Which leads me to question the safety on a casino floor when the two are in close proximity. I usually see at least two or three people with oxygen tanks every time I enter a casino, and naturally I encounter hundreds of people smoking.

This link from the New Jersey Health Department entitled "Hazards of portable oxygen equipment in smoking-permitted areas" certainly supports the theory

What it doesn't do is list any circumstances where fires broke out in casinos injuring patrons. It does list incidents of home fires, but perhaps the risk to the public isn't so great.

Maybe cigarette smoking slot players are not as rude as I generally hold them to be, giving oxygen tanks a wide berth.

I personally have yet to see a non-smoking slot area in Las Vegas, though I believe they exist elsewhere in the country.