Posts Tagged ‘table games’

NC Voters Want Table Games

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

A plan to allow tribal casinos in North Carolina to carry live table games has broad support from voters, according to a recent study. Today the John W. Pope Civitas Institute released the results of a poll, saying that 64% of North Carolina voters approve of allowing the casino to carry live table games, including blackjack.

Currently the Cherokee Native American Reservation, located in the western part of North Carolina, has a gambling license that allows them to carry electronic gaming machines in their casino. Blackjack, roulette and other table games are much more popular and fun when played live rather than on a machine. For that reason, there is a proposal to allow the Cherokee to offer those games at the casino. That proposal is supported by most of the state’s voters, according to the Civitas Institute.

According to the poll, 64% of all North Carolina voters support live table games at the casino, while only 26% oppose the idea. The other 10% did not have an opinion. The support is also bipartisan, with no major difference among political parties. For Republican voters, 60% approve and 33% disapprove, for Democrats it is a 65% approval versus a 22% disapproval. Voters with no party affiliation support table games 68% to 23%.

According to a study by the University of North Carolina, adding table games to the casino would create 400 casino jobs. In addition, it would increase business at nearby restaurants and hotels. With most of the state’s voters approving of the proposal, there is a good chance that the legislature will vote to allow the Cherokee Nation to renegotiate its compact with the state to allow blackjack and other live table games.

Maine Looks to Legalize Blackjack

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

In the last couple years, many states have looked at adding blackjack tables and other table games to their slots casinos. Now Maine is the latest to join in on the action. Earlier this month, the governor signed a bill that would allow table games if the voters approve. Now politicians, casinos and lobbyists are working to convince the public that it is a good idea.

This week a new special interest group formed calling itself the Prenobscot County for Table Games and Jobs Coalition. They are launching a campaign calling for blackjack, roulette and  other table games to be allowed at the Hollywood Slots casino in Bangor, Maine. The group says adding blackjack tables would increase traffic to the casino, increase jobs and increase revenue for the government.

Currently table games are banned by state law. However, the bill signed by Governor Paul LePage placed the question of amending the law to allow table games on the November ballot. Voters will then decide on the referendum and if it is approved, the law will be amended and blackjack will come to the state of Maine. The general manager of Hollywood Slots, John Osborne, is hoping the voters approve table games. If so, he predicts that it will add 100 jobs.

Referendums like this have a good success rate. Since the casino is already there offering slot machines, there isn’t much reason to turn down its ability to offer more games, even if you are against gambling. If the referendum is approved, Maine could have its first blackjack tables in 2013.

Rhode Island looks into adding blackjack

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Rhode Island’s two casinos currently only allow slot machines, but there has been a push to bring blackjack and other table games to the slot parlors. There is currently a bill in the state legislature that would allow expanded gambling options at one of those slot parlors, which could be big for the casino.

Representative William San Bento, who is chairman of the General Assembly’s Lottery Oversight Committee, introduced a bill that would allow the Twin River slot parlor in Lincoln, Rhode Island to add blackjack, roulette, poker and other table games. No mention is made of Newport Grand, the other slot parlor in the state.

Owners of the Twin River slot parlor are hopeful that the bill will pass, but I imagine their competitors at Newport Grand, who would be at a disadvantage, are not enthused. If they add blackjack and other table games, the casino could bring in additional $100 million in tax revenue for the state.

Several states recently have expanded their casinos to allow table games, including Pennsylvania and Florida, which only allows gambling at tribal casinos. In both states, the casinos saw big increases in attendance and earnings after adding the table games.

If the bill passes, it will create a public referendum, which would be placed on the November 2012 ballot. If the voters approve of adding table games to the casino, it would be signed into law and by 2013, the casino could begin adding blackjack and other high-draw casino games. It is unknown at this time how much support the bill has in the legislature.

Blackjack No Longer King of Vegas

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

For years, seemingly forever, blackjack has been known as king of the casinos. While slot machines were the most popular game overall, due in part to the sheer number of games, blackjack was always the biggest table game. All of that is changing, though. Last year, for the first time blackjack was passed by another table game for Las Vegas revenue.

Last year, baccarat brought in $1.2 billion of revenue for Nevada casinos, making it the first time that blackjack had been outgained by another table game. The trend doesn’t seem likely to reverse anytime soon, either. Baccarat brought in $279.9 million more in revenue than during Las Vegas’s peak in 2007. Meanwhile, blackjack revenue declined by 31% during that same time period. This is despite the fact that blackjack is found at virtually every Nevada casino, while baccarat is only at a small number of resorts. In the last decade, casinos have added 149 baccarat tables, while blackjack tables have decreased by 815.

Experts think they know the reason for this change. Blackjack and baccarat attract different types of players. Blackjack is a mass-market game that is popular with mid-rollers. These are middle-class people who want more strategy and higher stakes than penny slots but don’t want to get into high stakes games. Certainly there are high-stakes blackjack games, but most blackjack players wager around the middle of the spectrum. That adds to the mass appeal of the game.

Baccarat, however, is more of a niche game that is favored by upper-class high rollers, especially Chinese players. Those players like the exclusivity of the game and its high stakes. People who have enough money to play high-stake games of baccarat are not as affected by the recession as players of mid-level games like blackjack.

When the recession hit, people had less disposable income because they had less overall income or feared losing income (such as by losing their job). That hurt the main crowd of blackjack: tourists who have enough money to enter a casino and play some table games, but not enough to throw down big money. The high rollers, however, still have plenty of disposable income, despite the recession, and are therefore still able to play baccarat. As the recession continues, this trend will likely continue. If the economy improves, the game of choice may shift back to blackjack.

NJ college training blackjack dealers for other states

Friday, August 13th, 2010

It’s survival of the fittest out there in the business world, unless you can get a federal bailout. Therefore, businesses must adapt or die. A New Jersey college is doing just that because of the struggling local economy. With lessening demand for casino workers in Atlantic City, the college is exporting the talent.

Atlantic Cape Community College opened casino school a while back with the mission of training dealers and croupiers to work in the Atlantic City casinos. It seemed logical, considering the large part of the Atlantic City economy that the casinos played. However, the Great Recession has hurt everyone, making an economic mess of things all over.
Atlantic City is hurting worse than most places, though, partly because gambling is considered a luxury expense that should be reduced or eliminated during tough times, and partly because of mismanagement from ousted Governor Jon Corzine.

Atlantic City casinos are losing money and cutting jobs. Therefore, the employment situation there is bleak. As a result, the community college is still offering the casino school, but most of the students are finding employment elsewhere, particularly in the nearby areas of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New York.

To help a flagging attendance, Atlantic Cape Community College now sells its casino school curriculum to other states. Northampton Community College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for example, purchased the curriculum and trains students in a strip mall before sending them to local casinos. Including Mount Airy Casino, which has a partnership with NCC.

As more and more states opt to legalize casinos and add table games to their slot parlors, it seems that this new business model of selling their curriculum to competitors is the best way for ACCC to make money at the moment. Hopefully at some point the economy will recover and Atlantic City will have jobs of its own.

Cheaters caught at new PA blackjack tables

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Not long ago, along with other blackjack fans, I applauded the launching of blackjack tables and other table games in Pennsylvania casinos. The blackjack tables quickly attracted fans of the game, but they also attracted cheaters. I guess I should say alleged cheaters.

Three examples immediately come to mind. At the Hollywood Casino in Grantville, Pennsylvania, Claudie Kenion III was caught trying to change his bets on winning hands. When his hand won, he would sneak extra chips into the betting circle. He was arrested for attempting to cheat at blackjack and is accused of doing this technique for 13 hands. This happened on only the second day of blackjack tables at this casino.

Then there is Thomas Albright, who was arrested at a Hollywood Casino in East Hanover Township, Pennsylvania after he was caught trying to do the opposite of Kenion. Albright tried to sneak chips that he had bet out of the betting circle on hands that he lost. He was quickly arrested and charged with theft in addition to being banned from the casino for a minimum of 30 days.

Then there is the man who last weekend was seen cheating at Mount Airy Casino in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania. The man, who hasn’t been identified to the press, was caught trying to use counterfeit $100 chips at the blackjack table. When he was approached, the man fled the casino and is still at large. If apprehended, the man faces a theft conviction among other charges.

I point this out for a couple reasons. The first is to show that the casinos notice when people cheat. The dealers and other casino employees are trained to look for suspicious behavior and there are also surveillance cameras that cover the entire casino floor. The other reason I point this out is to show the harsh penalties that go along with being caught cheating in a casino. In the state of Pennsylvania, anyone caught cheating at a casino faces up to five years in prison and a $150,000 fine. Depending on the amount that is stolen, they could have a felony criminal record. In addition, they can be banned from the casino for an unspecified amount of time.

Blackjack games open in Pennsylvania

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Tuesday saw the U.S. state of Pennsylvania celebrate the launch of table games in their casinos, which had until then housed online slot machines. The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs hosted a grand-opening ceremony, where the Mohegan tribe’s vice chairman, Bruce “Two Dogs” Bozsum, offered a blessing.

There was then a free ceremonial blackjack hand played by four lucky customers chosen at random. In that hand, the players competed for a prize of either $25,000 or a new Mercedes. Two of the players beat the dealer and won the money, but the other two didn’t walk away empty-handed. As a consolation prize, they won $5,000.

The Mogegan Sun casino, located in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, now offers 46 tables of blackjack, poker and more. That is not the only improvement made to the casino this week, though. The casino also instituted a new rule where all drinks are on the house for players at tables with a $25 or more minimum.

Nearby Mount Airy Casino Resport also opened table games this week. Like the Mohegan Sun, they now offer free drinks, but there the drinks are free for anyone who is gambling on the gaming floor, whether you are playing at a high-roller table or a penny slot.

All of this is good news for blackjack players and drinkers (for players who like both, it’s a great deal). It is common for casinos on the Las Vegas Strip to offer complimentary drinks to anyone on the casino floor, but smaller casinos outside of Sin City usually have not had that practice. By instituting those perks, the Pennsylvania casinos are signaling an intent to compete with the big players in the casino market.

PA to Have Blackjack by July 4?

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

Last month, many blackjack fans were pleased to hear that Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell had signed a bill into law that would allow table games in the state. Since then, the move to allow blackjack, poker and other table games in state casinos has been put on the fast track. The Chairman of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, Greg Fajt, says that table games could be in operation in the casinos by the Fourth of July.

To gambling enthusiasts, that date makes perfect sense. On America’s Independence Day, when freedom is celebrated more than any other time, gamblers will be given the freedom to challenge a dealer at blackjack, something that inexplicably had not been allowed before.

Yesterday, the gaming board issued temporary regulations for casinos that are adding table games. By issuing the temporary regulations, the process of getting the games up and running is sped up. Those regulations include the required training for dealers and which rules are accepted for poker, among other things. The temporary regulations are effective immediately and last for two years. By the end of that two-year period, the gaming board will have had time to sit down with the casinos, unions, and everyone else involved, and come up with more permanent regulations.

Prior to this table game legislation being signed into law, only slot machines have been allowed in Pennsylvania casinos. By adding table games, the slot casinos should be able to attract more customers and make a lot more money, which in turn will benefit the state of Pennsylvania due to the tax revenue and other costs. Each casino that wants to add table games must pay a $16.5 million license fee up front. In addition, in the first two years, table games will be taxed at 16%, with it dropping slightly to 14% after that time. Larger casinos will be allowed to add up to 250 table games each, while small resort casinos will be allowed 50 table games.

The legalization of table games is thought to be a great help for Pennsylvania’s economy, but not everyone is happy. Take the state of New Jersey, for example. That state has its own gambling market and isn’t pleased at the thought of more competition. Many in the state fear that Atlantic City casinos will lose a lot of business to the Pennsylvania casinos, particularly the New York City market.

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.