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Breaking News

It is once again time for that popular regular “Frankly Speaking” feature, which I just made up, that we like to call “Busting On The News.”

OK, it’s only the name I just made up. This is yet another one of those columns where I take the casino news of the day and make it seem goofy. It is a common column-writing trick, known in all the journalism textbooks as the “Frankification of the News.”

Our first item comes from the “Casino Gambling Web,” an online news site dealing exclusively with our beloved industry. Larry Rutherford, staff editor of the website, wrote the following in reference to the drive by Pennsylvania lawmakers to add table games to the slot machines now legal in casinos:

“Once casino gambling comes to an area, it is hard to stop the momentum that begins to build for full-blown casinos. States usually start with slot machines, then gradually increase the game offerings until full-blown gambling is legal.”

Imagine that. Slots are a gateway drug. You start out saying, “I’ll just spin a couple of reels,” but then you need more of a rush, so you move up to blackjack, and before you know it, you’re throwing dice and ditching markers like Charles Barkley.

I don’t buy it. Diehard slot players and table-game players are two different breeds. Besides, look at the little old ladies. (Alright, you don’t have to. I was speaking figuratively.) I’ve seen women who have been going to casinos since Al Jolson sang on the Boardwalk who have never bought a gaming chip or sat down at a felt table. Case closed. Off my machine, Sonny!

In other Frankified news, the MGM Grand at Foxwoods opened at midnight on May 17, after an evening in which us press types were treated to a “dine-around” to sample all of the place’s great celebrity restaurants and lounges. We also were graciously permitted to be the first to dump money into the casino-within-a-casino’s new slot machines. I gladly obliged. I don’t know how the other reporters fared, but I was like a fatted calf led to slaughter.

But considering the food, and the absolutely gorgeous casino and hotel rooms, I didn’t mind at all throwing a few “gaming entertainment” dollars to the luck gods. My initial thoughts: Craftsteak is amazing, you’ve got to get a burger and cheesecake at Junior’s Restaurant, the Shrine has some of the best single-malt Scotch I’ve found in a casino, and… I don’t remember the rest. (I guess it was the Scotch.)

Next up, the Sands casino name is coming back to America. Las Vegas Sands Corporation is going to call its Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, property the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. Esther Lee, a member of the anti-casino group Citizens for a Better Bethlehem, doesn’t like it.

“We used to be known as the Christmas City,” Esther told a reporter. “I don’t like the sound of this at all. This will transform how we are viewed, and ultimately who we are.”

Do you think she’d be happier if they called it the “Christmas City Casino?” “Three Kings Casino Resort?” “The Manger Resort Hotel, Casino and Spa?” “Frankincense and Mirth?” (I’ve got a million of them, but I’ll spare you.)

The operator changed the casino’s name to the Sands because focus groups reacted to the original Rust-Belt-friendly “BethWorks” name as if they had just been treated to a seminar on theoretical mathematics.

While “Sands” doesn’t exactly fit the region’s industrial roots, it will be a great place for the hundreds of fake-Rat-Pack reviews. (Motto: “The Sands. Home of the Dead Crooners.”)

Shuffling up to Buffalo, the Seneca tribe has begun construction on its new casino, called the “Buffalo Creek Casino” to generate images of a pristine wilderness in the middle of downtown Buffalo. I like the name. It’s certainly better than the original name that casino drew from the surrounding region, the “Big Friggin’ Pile of Snow Resort Casino.”

In our last item, two men were arrested on suspicion of manufacturing methamphetamine inside motor homes parked at California’s Feather Falls Casino. I knew it! All the years I’ve seen RVs parked outside of casinos, I figured they were cooking up meth in there. No, seriously, the two men, 30-year-old Michael Taylor and 35-year-old Eric Selvidge, allegedly used a 1990 Toyota motor home and a 1978 Winnebago as mobile meth labs.

Suspicions were raised when police were notified of recreational vehicles parked on casino property by drivers under the age of 100.

There was no comment from the casino. However, blackjack drop reportedly soared after two unidentified men spent two weeks straight at the tables, without stopping to eat.

That’s the news. Good night, and good luck.

Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the books, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying, and Atlantic City: In Living Color.  

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