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Kickin' with Kim Jong-il

Kickin’ with Kim Jong-il

So, I was reading a Russian newspaper the other day, and…

What, you don’t think I can read Russian? Well, you’re right; I can’t. But I find that if I drink enough vodka, I can tell what the stories are saying.

Anyway, according to the story, Russian authorities have found that the North Korean Embassy in Moscow is being used to house an illegal casino. According to the daily newspaper Izvestia (which means, “I can’t read Russian”), the North Koreans leased a 2,000-square-foot administrative building adjacent to the embassy to use as a cafeteria, but is really using it as a casino.

It’s called Kim Jong-il’s Nuclear Saloon, Gambling Hall and Western Emporium. Motto: “Our Beloved Leader Dictates Fun!”

All the dealers and cocktail servers are short, have wild, unkempt hair and wear drab gray uniforms. The gaming chips are made of enriched uranium. If you enter the casino, they won’t let you leave.

Wait, I have more! The… um… OK, maybe I’m done.

Seriously, though, the report says the casino has five poker and blackjack tables, 30 slot machines, a second floor with four roulette tables, and a third-floor VIP room. And a lounge called the “38th Parallel.”

OK, I guess I had one more.

The Russian government, as you know, outlawed casinos in the capital. But reports of illegal gambling halls in embassies have cropped up here and there, the logic being that embassies are immune from local prosecution.

 I wonder what kind of casino the U.S. Embassy in Moscow is running. Maybe Donald Trump can get involved. I hear he was really born in Russia. (Or maybe it was Kenya. I don’t remember.)

In any event, while the Russian government was dealing with this apparent snafu involving a casino, the United States government was dealing with another kind of casino-related snafu. It involved the U.S. Postal Service stamp issued recently that bears the image of the Statue of Liberty.

It turns out Lady Liberty’s image on the postage stamp, of which 3 billion were issued by the Postal Service, is actually an image of the replica Statue of Liberty that stands in front of the New York-New York casino on the Las Vegas Strip. The Postal Service reportedly lifted the image from a photo service, and didn’t realize it was the casino statue until being notified by Linn’s Stamp News, which had in turn been notified by a subscriber who evidently sits around all day looking at stamps.

The story is particularly fitting for me to relate to you in this issue of Global Gaming Business, since our cover feature examines MGM Resorts, the owner of that statue—and now, of a casino resort that is immortalized on a U.S. postage stamp. An MGM spokesman said the company was “honored” by the choice, and the Postal Service is standing by the image.

Reportedly, the stamp collector noticed that the image on the stamp has “different hair and better-defined eyes than her New York sister.” She’s also wearing a fanny-pack, but that didn’t show up on the stamp. (Oh, come on, I’m kidding, MGM! It’s what I do.)

I’ll wrap up this month’s merry amalgamation of mirth with a story from my native state of Pennsylvania, where the Gaming Control Board has once again dashed the hopes of a casino in Gettysburg, giving the sole resort casino license to Joe Hardy’s Nemacolin Woodlands resort, in the mountains near my home town of Pittsburgh.

Over in Gettysburg, all the anti-gaming crusaders cheered after the gaming board announced the decision to a packed house in Harrisburg. My favorite article on the subject came from the local Patriot News, not for the prose itself, but for the comments readers injected at the end.

On anti-casino comments that the decision prevents a crass and classless venture from polluting sacred ground, posters said:

“There’s nothing like standing on a historic battlefield and staring at a KFC.”

“Gettysburg has no ‘priceless history.’ This Civil War battle was fought by opposing groups of alcoholics.”

“Places like ‘General Pickett’s Buffet’ (an actual Gettysburg business) are OK, but a casino is not.”

On the picture of the crowd at the board meeting, which included a guy dressed up like Robert E. Lee:

“Well, no, it’s not Robert E. Lee. It’s a grown man who has the time and money to spend a weekday masquerading as a deceased Civil War general.”

To which another reader replied: “To simplify, just say ‘dork.’”

In the end, there probably never will be a casino in Gettysburg. Oh, well. We can still go to Moscow. Or is it North Korea?

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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