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King Tut Pays Off

King Tut Pays Off

You know, if I’ve learned anything in 20-odd years of doing whatever it is that I do, it’s this: When it comes to casinos, everybody wants a piece of the action.
  
 Even Egypt.
   
It says here that Zahi Hawass, who heads Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, has presented legislation to the Egyptian parliament that would let the country require payment from anyone replicating its ancient treasures.
   
That includes all the King Tut stuff at Luxor in Las Vegas-stuff that Zahi Hawass himself helped to create. If the bill goes through, the Luxor will have to pay royalties to Egypt on its exhibit replicating the contents of King Tutankhamen’s tomb.
   
Before Luxor opened in 1993, Hawass served as a consultant to its owner, then called Circus Circus Enterprises, in the creation of a collection of artifakes-fake artifacts, which look exactly like the contents of King Tut’s tomb as it was discovered in 1922. Visitors still fork over $9.99 a pop to view the artifakes. Egypt wants a piece of that.
   
So far, they don’t want Luxor to give them money because its hotel looks like a pyramid, or because there’s a Sphinx replica out front. Of course, that’s only because none of the pyramids at
Giza have hotel rooms or a light shining out the top, and the great Sphinx doesn’t have a casino in its belly.
   
Hawass has said he originally crafted the proposed law to prevent looting and illegal copyrights of Egyptian antiquities in China and elsewhere. I think there are some King Tut bobble-head dolls circulating around. (If not, there should be.)
   
But the Luxor exhibit would fall under the law, too, said Hawass. MGM Mirage, which owns the Luxor, is going to respect the law. Presumably, if the law passes, the casino will either pay Egypt royalties or disassemble the exhibit-or, according to what an MGM Mirage spokesman told the newspapers, they could change the exhibit to respect the law. “We try to be very sensitive, and if this law should pass and it should turn out we could do some good for Egypt by making changes as minor as dealing with the replicas in the museum, then we’d make those changes,” an MGM Mirage spokesman said last month.
   
Changes? What are they going to do? Put funny-nose glasses on Tut’s sarcophagus image? Spray-paint graffiti on the hieroglyphics? (“Skynyrd rules!”) Paint a smiley-face on the fake mummy?
   
Beyond the potential need to alter the Luxor’s exhibit, what effect will the precedent of Egypt’s law have on other stuff that is replicated in the giant movie set that is the Las Vegas Strip? Will MGM have to pay the city of New York for all the stuff at New York-New York? How will they “change” that?
   
“Come to the all-new Hoboken Casino Hotel!”
   
What about the Venetian? Will we hear from Italy now, saying they want Las Vegas Sands to fork over some dough for the replicas of the Venice architecture and canals? Will we hear from the gondola-pusher’s union in Italy? What about Harrah’s? Will New Orleans want a piece of that Mardi Gras casino action? Will Japan want a piece of the Imperial Palace? Will France tap into Monte Carlo? Will pirates sack Treasure Island? What about Hooters? I can see millions in royalties going to plastic surgeons across the country.
   
Alright, having milked the Egypt story for every lame joke I could possibly extract, let’s turn to another hilarious item in this month’s gaming news. It involves heart attacks. (Doesn’t it always?)
   
I just learned that you have a better chance to survive a heart attack in a casino than you do at a hospital. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, which, of course, I read religiously, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of surviving a heart attack in a gaming hall, and a hospital, you’ve only got a one-in-three chance. Apparently, casinos are Johnny-on-the-spot with the defibrillator when someone grabs his chest and keels over, and no one asks you to fill out an insurance form or anything.
   
That story makes me feel all safe. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going over to the buffet to eat something deep-fried, and then I’m going to buy a carton of cigarettes so I can take up smoking again. Then, I’ll play a progressive slot without having to worry about dying if a shocking jackpot happens. (Well, I’ve got a 50/50 chance, anyway. I like those odds.)
   
Then, it’s off to visit the Luxor, so I can see the funny-nose glasses on King Tut.

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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