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Creepy and Crawly

Dracula ballet and creepy cocktails - enthusiasm for Halloween among our favorite casinos

Creepy and Crawly

This is the November issue, but here in the past as I write my column, it’s Halloween time. Personally, that means it’s time to see how absolutely devoted to this fact—to the point of madness—some of my neighbors are.

One guy down the street put up 10-foot monsters in his yard—a werewolf with a perfectly torn flannel shirt, a giant zombie-like guy who looks just as menacing, a life-sized, horse-drawn hearse with a skeleton driver and a skeleton in the back, drawn by a skeleton horse. The only question remaining is whether the kiddies will be delighted, or will avoid the yard because it scares the bejesus out of them. (It kind of scares me.)

Another guy transformed his front yard into a cemetery, complete with a wrought-iron fence. Still another put up every inflatable critter he could find, until his yard looked like the audience for the Outdoor Concert of the Damned.

We usually put out a pumpkin. Sometimes, two. Yay.

There’s no less enthusiasm for Halloween among our favorite casinos. Here in the East, Bally’s Atlantic City threw an indoor/outdoor Halloween costume party, with cash prizes for the best overall, scariest, funniest and most scandalous costumes. The only requirement, other than being at least 21: “Masks cannot cover the entire face.”

Why not? Are they afraid someone will suffocate? Or that someone with a naturally hideous face will get the Scariest Costume award when he was just strolling by?

Elsewhere in Atlantic City, Dracula was at Caesars. Actually, Phyllis Papa’s Dracula, a performance of the Atlantic City Ballet, with “serious costumes, theatrical sets and a gripping score,” according to the playbill.

I’m trying to imagine pale ballet dancers with fangs biting each other in the neck as they pirouette. Nope, can’t do it. I should have gone to the show.

The Claridge Hotel threw a “Superstitions & Spirits Night” party where mixologists created any number of viscous, creepy cocktails.

Creepy cocktails, in fact, are a casino thing on Halloween. Southern California casinos featured a lot of them this year. According to the Press-Enterprise, Harrah’s Resort Southern California mixologists worked together to craft the Nightmare on Bourbon Street, La Bruja and the Forbidden Potion. The cocktails include “candy eyeballs, a black salted rim and a vial of mystery liquid that changes the drink’s color,” according to the article.

Very creative, yes, but honestly, the look of these things turns my stomach. Cocktails that look like they were prepared at an autopsy just don’t appeal to my eyes or my tastebuds.

Like I said, we put out a pumpkin. Sometimes two. Every five years or so, we’ll even carve faces on them. Yay, Halloween!

Moving on, the November issue always looks back on the just-completed Global Gaming Expo, held a week later than normal this year, which, to a deadline-challenged editor like myself, is more terrifying than a 10-foot werewolf. (We met the deadline. Hey, you’re reading the magazine, right?)

The show’s producers held an opening press conference, and the first thing they said was, “Yes, there’s a carpet on the trade show floor.” You may recall that in 2021, it was a bare concrete floor, because they were afraid Covid-19 germs were going to hide in the carpet.

Now that was a nightmare. By the end of the second day, I was wishing I had a peg-leg. At least that foot wouldn’t have been throbbing in pain, and I’d look like a pirate, which would have been cool.

Yes, there was a rug this year. It was as full and thick as a piece of paper. The horror… The horror…

I’m always asked for my opinion on the G2E slot games, so I’ll give it to you now: Everything displayed by any company that advertises in this magazine was simply fabulous.

No, seriously, a few items really stood out. Like, Kong: Skull Island from Light & Wonder. Talk about scary—this is a special cabinet that has a portrait screen as big as the side of my house, displaying the famous giant ape in what looks to be a life-sized display. I almost started to climb the Empire State Building myself.

Then there was Aristocrat’s collection of NFL slots. Before you play, you touch the logo of your own team. Hey, any time I can play a Pittsburgh Steelers slot machine, I’m a happy camper. They even put video footage from your team’s most recent season in the bonus rounds. The footage showed Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky from last year, before he got benched for Kenny Pickett. (Too bad they couldn’t wait until Game 4 to pull the footage.)

Next year, the footage will be from this season.

Now that’s scary.

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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