Posts Tagged ‘casino gambling’

Blackjack table revenue down in Colorado

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Casino revenue is down in the U.S. state of Colorado, which somehow is supposed to be a surprise. The state legalized casino gambling way back in 1991 and at that time only allowed casinos to carry slot machines, blackjack tables and poker tables. Casinos also had a set closing time and were not allowed to operate around the clock. The blackjack tables also had $5 betting limits.

Last year, the Colorado legislature made some changes in an attempt to boost revenue. One change was to remove the restriction on operating hours, allowing the casinos to be open 24 hours per day. Another change provided by Amendment 50 was that the table limits was raised to $100, allowing for some high roller blackjack games. As a result, many casinos got rid of their $5 blackjack tables and started making $10 and $15 tables the lowest at the casino. The thought is that it would increase revenue because the players would still play at the tables but they would bet more.

How has this worked out? Well, revenue is down at Colorado casinos. Profits are down this year as a total and last month there was a big drop, down to $70.1 million from $76 million in July 2009. When the table limits were raised, many people, including me, said that it was a bad idea because it would scare off players who don’t want to bet much money. It’s hard to say if that has been much of a factor in the declining profits. The most obvious cause of the drop in revenue is the Great Recession, which has left millions without jobs and those who do have jobs are worried about losing theirs next. It’s not a great time to be gambling your money away and that mindset is hurting casinos everywhere. If the economy recovers anytime soon, we will see how much of a factor the table limits is.

Atlantic City to Add Smaller Casinos?

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

As business in Atlantic City’s casinos is down, some lawmakers want to add more casinos to the mix in what would be the biggest gambling expansion in the city since gambling was legalized 32 years ago. On Monday, a state law allowing the expansion could hit the floor. It is already facing stiff opposition, though.

Proponents of expansion say that adding more casinos to the market would increase demand and give people who haven’t been to Atlantic City, New Jersey, in a while a new reason to visit. Opponents say that adding more casinos would dilute the market and take business away from the established casinos in the city. On that note, the main opponents of this bill are the current casinos and their unions.

There is also another variable to consider: casino size. Currently, state law requires that casinos have a minimum of 500 rooms, with many having well over 1,000. The result is that all of the casinos are large, fancy establishments that you would expect from fine Atlantic City resorts. Under the proposed bill, the room minimum would be dropped to 200.

Proponents of the bill say that allowing smaller casinos will bring more variety to Atlantic City, which would help them compete with the smaller casinos in Delaware and Pennsylvania. The current casinos, however, disagree and say that it will do two things: 1) take business away from the existing casinos, and 2) lower the standard of the casinos in the city. They equate it to having a bad neighbor moving a trailer into their high-class luxury community. Adding smaller, cheaper casinos to the mix would change the image of Atlantic City from being one of only first-class establishments.

Bob McDevitt, president of one of those unions (Unite-HERE), says that if the bill is passed they would be “cheapening the billions and billions of dollars already invested in Atlantic City, and changing the definition of what gaming in New Jersey is.” He also said that anyone who wants to enter the nation’s second-largest gambling market (to Las Vegas), “better be able to pony up the money to do a first-class facility. Otherwise, you have no business being here.”

Proponents of gambling expansion say that adding smaller casinos will bring more people to the city, which will help all businesses, even those not related to gambling. Adding new attractions to an area is a proven way to make money, but the question about lowering the standards is a valid one. A reason given for lowering the size standards is an attempt to match the standards in competing areas in Philadelphia and Delaware, where new casinos can be added for considerably cheaper.

There’s also a question of how much money business owners are willing to pay out in advance. State Senator James Whelan, a former mayor of Atlantic City who will introduce the legislation, says that times have changed and in order to compete they need to allow smaller casinos. He says that in Philadelphia and Delaware “you can get in for tens of millions of dollars. In Atlantic City, 500 rooms costs you $800 million, minimum, and nobody’s writing checks for $800 million or $1 billion nowadays.”

Therein lies the main debate at issue. In the middle of a recession where the Atlantic City casino industry is hurting, would it be good or bad for the economy to add new, smaller casinos? Would the added variety bring new people to the area or would it make current Atlantic City customers think that their scene is no longer better than the competition? If Whelan is right, the legislation could revive a struggling economy. If he’s wrong, however, he could further hinder an economy that is already in had shape.

Man Sues Casino for Loaning Him Money

Friday, March 5th, 2010

In my blog I make a point to discuss gambling responsibly and taking a personal responsibility for your habits and actions, so when I heard about this case I had to write about it. A Kentucky man is suing a casino in Indiana for loaning him money while he was drunk.

Jimmy L. Vance was gambling in what was then called Caesar’s Casino (now the Horseshoe Southern Indiana) back in 2004 and lost $75,000 to the casino. What’s worse is that it wasn’t Vance’s money. After presumably losing his own money at the casino (none of the news stories say), Vance took credit advances for the $75,000 in several installments. Vance says he remembers borrowing the first $20,000 but not the rest.

Vance has not paid the money he owes and is suing the casino for taking advantage of him. According to Vance, the casino loaned him money when he was clearly inebriated and, therefore, not of sound mind to make a decision to borrow money. Vance’s lawyers are arguing that if he was drunk he cannot legally enter into a contract with the casino. Therefore, the loan contract would be null and void and he would not owe the casino a thing. His lawyers also state that surveillance videos clearly show that Vance was intoxicated.

The casino argues that he was fully functional and didn’t sway or stagger. They say he seemed fine while playing blackjack, walking the casino floor and talking to the dealers and cocktail waitresses. If the casino wins this case, they could seek up to $225,000 under Indiana law, which includes what Vance currently owes, interest and legal fees.

One of the issues at question is whether the casinos can legally offer a loan to a player who is drunk. Some see that as taking advantage of someone who is vulnerable. Others believe that it is the responsibility of the player to make their own decisions, including how much to drink. Most states, however, can charge a bartender for serving alcohol to someone who is intoxicated and hold them legally liable if there is an alcohol-related incident, such as DUI. It’s not a stretch for the same concept to be applied to a casino giving out loans. Similarly, several players have sued casinos for allegedly taking advantage of their gambling addiction, but so far none have been successful.

This case is kind of a he said-she said and I don’t know the truth, but I will tell you this. You should never take a loan from a casino. Ever. If you don’t have the money to gamble with, you have no business gambling. You should only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and if you need a loan to gamble, this is obviously not the case. Aside from that, the only advice I can give you is to be careful how much alcohol you consume in a casino, because the more you drink, the worse your decisions get.

Machine to Help with Problem Gambling

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Gambling, whether it’s done in a brick and mortar or online casino, can be a fun way to spend your time if you are responsible. Like many forms of entertainment, including sporting events, movies, theme parks and more, it costs money to play your favorite casino games. One difference, though, is that you don’t necessarily know how much it will cost you ahead of time. That’s where budgeting and planning how much to spend ahead of time comes in handy.

Some people, however, have a hard time doing that and even if they do plan, in the excitement of the moment have a hard time walking away when they should. That is a form of problem gambling, an ailment that afflicts too many players worldwide. Now there is a machine available that can help people manage their money more effectively.

A Canadian gaming company called TechLink has introduced the Responsible Gaming Device, which is made to be used in brick and mortar casinos, though it is likely that an online version will be available soon.

How it works is this: Casinos purchase a machine, called Gameplan, and install the software for that device on their gambling machines. Players purchase the Responsible Gaming Device, which can be plugged into the casino’s machines. That Device identifies the gambler and all of the conditions that have been selected.

The machine allows the player to select certain limits, whether it’s a maximum amount of losses during a time period, a certain amount of money wagered, or any other similar limit and is notified when those limits are met. The device then locks the player out and no more bets can be made. If necessary, the player can also use the device to exclude themselves entirely, which is basically a self-blacklisting.

Though this would be easy to incorporate into machines like slots and video poker, I don’t know how it could be used, if it can, for table games like blackjack. For that reason, I think the software is better suited for online casinos. That way it could be applied to every game and it could refuse to let the player make a deposit or play any games once the limit is met.

Ideally, everything that this machine accomplishes would be done by the gamblers without any help. Setting your own limits before you start playing is wise and it’s the easiest way to make sure you don’t spend too much. However, for people who have a problem with compulsive gambling, this machine is a great idea and will eventually help a lot of people. I, for one, am excited about it.

Blackjack Revenue Dropping in Vegas

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

When you think of gambling on the Vegas Strip, you think of blackjack. The game of blackjack has always been the most popular casino table game and for many is the first thing you think of when you think of Vegas. However, revenue from blackjack has taken a hit recently, and it’s not the money maker that it has been in the past.

In 2009, the amount of money won by casinos in blackjack dropped by 20% and the amount wagered on the game fell to its lowest amount ($8.917 billion) since 2003. In 2009, money made from blackjack made up just 9.7% of all casino revenue, which is the first time in history that it has been below 10%. In addition, the hold percentage, which is the percentage of money won compared to money wagered, fell to 11.3%, also the lowest in the history of Las Vegas.

So what happened? Well, the most obvious reason for revenue being down is the recession. Tourism in general is down, including visits to Vegas. Fewer people visiting Vegas means fewer people gambling at casinos. However, that doesn’t explain why blackjack is making up a smaller percentage of casino revenue.

The reason for that, according to some experts, is that casinos have shot themselves in the foot. In a quest to make more money, many casinos have tightened the rules on their blackjack games, putting in place stricter rules on splitting and doubling, having the dealer hit a soft 17, and in some cases making a natural blackjack pay out 6:5 rather than 3:2. In addition to tilting the odds more in favor of the house, many casinos have raised the minimum wager requirements and gotten rid of the $1 tables and in some cases even the $5 tables.

But how would that cause the casino to make less money? Well, getting rid of the low-limit tables has caused some of the inexperienced gamblers to stay away from blackjack and play other games instead. Newer gamblers want games with lower limits because they seem like lower risks. Those same players are more likely to play with bad strategy, which gives the house better odds of winning. Eliminating those bad players means a larger percentage of the people playing blackjack do play proper basic strategy, which lowers the house edge.

In addition, the tightening of the rules has caused some of the high-end players to play different games instead. One of the biggest beneficiaries of that is baccarat, which has seen an increase in popularity at the same time that blackjack has had a down tick.

So what does this all mean? Getting greedy can end up costing you money. That is true for players and it is true for casinos as well. It’s worth remembering, especially during tough economic times.

Crist Game for Negotiating New Seminole Deal

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Florida Governor Charlie Crist twice already has tried to negotiate a deal that would allow the Seminole tribe to legally offer table games at their casinos. In return, the state would get a portion of the revenue. To be more accurate, Crist has twice successfully negotiated those deals with the Seminole, but both times the deals were rejected by the state House of Representatives.

You couldn’t blame Crist for being discouraged. However, on Tuesday the governor told reporters that he would be willing to sit down and negotiate a deal a third time. The Seminole are likely more frustrated than Crist, especially since there are threats of the Feds coming in and shutting down their current blackjack operations. However, that is also motivation for them to get some kind of a deal done. It is hoped that both sides can agree on some sort of deal that would actually pass the legislature.

The governor stated that “we want to do whatever we can to get that money for Florida’s children.” Ah, the children. See, that is another issue that has raised the stakes on getting a deal done. Crist’s education budget includes $433 million in gambling revenue from the Seminole tribe. Without a deal, there is no money and he would have to either cut $433 million from education or take that money from other parts of the state’s budget.

Of course, to play Devil’s advocate, I should point out that Florid voted to create a state lottery in 1986 because it was promised that the revenue would go toward education. Recent studies, however, have found that it does little to affect education.

Aside from working on a new deal with the Seminole, Crist said that he is open to allowing full casinos on the beach in south Florida. Of course, time is a factor in anything that Crist wants to do. He is giving up his governor’s seat this year in an attempt to become a US Senator for the state of Florida. However, he is currently trailing in the polls to primary opponent Marco Rubio, a more conservative Republican. If this takes too long, Crist may be unemployed and spending all of his time on the beach working on that creepy-looking tan.