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Maker’s Mark, Please

Losing, or winning, under the influence

Maker’s Mark, Please

You may not have known that 888casino.com, in addition to being a well-known online casino, is a source of casino news, which someone like me might never had known, unless he was looking to do a humor column and stumbled upon an 888casino news story.

Well, it’s labeled a “blog,” which means the writer, who may or may not be paid, is part of a group of like-minded folks who gather around one subject.

It’s what my favorite novelist, the late Kurt Vonnegut, used to call a “granfalloon,” a term derived from the fictional religion of Bokononism in the novel Cat’s Cradle, defined as “a group of people who affect a shared identity or purpose, but whose mutual association is meaningless.”

In the 1963 novel, the granfalloon was “Hoosiers,” people who identified with each other for no other reason than that they were from Indiana. In 2024, bloggers form granfalloons. In this case, the granfalloon is, presumably, people who like to gamble on 888 sites.

Which brings me, in a painfully circuitous manner, back to the subject at hand. An 888 blogger—in this case, a fine New York journalist named Michael Kaplan—published an article on 888casino dealing with a subject seemingly made for the type of amusement we seek in this space. It’s titled, “Too Out of It to Play? Casino Gambling Trips Gone Wrong.”

Kaplan logs several anecdotes from the real live, brick-and-mortar casino world, of gamblers who went to the well of the cocktail server a few too many times. Some of them proved to also be, as they say, a few French fries short of a Happy Meal.

I like Kaplan’s summary of the subject:

“High rollers may get bottles of Louis XIV cognac and tumblers of fine single-malt scotch while the rest of us content ourselves with well drinks of vodka and tonic. And if we get drunk with $20 at risk in a game of chance that we’re unlikely to win anyway, who cares?”

It’s what I always say.

In the first story, a former sports agent—NBA legend Dennis Rodman was his client—claims MGM not only took advantage of him when he was drunk and losing money, but that the casino actually slipped him a Mickey.

The agent, Dwight Manley, sued MGM Resorts International, claiming that he lost all control of his high-limit blackjack game after the casino bartender slipped ketamine into his Old Fashioned. He said the drink tasted “bitter.” Next thing he knew, bim, bam, boom, he was down a million bucks.

Ketamine is a horse tranquilizer. The case is pending.

You know, I’ve never met a casino bartender yet who doesn’t keep a good supply of ketamine on hand, just biding time until he can slip it into some high roller’s Old Fashioned. I think it’s in their union contract.

Dennis Rodman is not involved, although the agent says he first met Rodman at a blackjack table.

I once wanted to see a Dennis Rodman slot machine developed. There could be bonuses involving three-point shots and layups, and maybe a bonus where there’s an image of Rodman, and bonus awards pop out of each body piercing. Collecting all the face piercings would return the Grand progressive.

Moving on, among other tales of alcoholic casino high jinks is an item titled “Black-Out Blackjack.” A guy claims that the Downtown Grand Casino in Las Vegas plied him with so much booze that he blacked out. In fact, he says he was in “complete blackout” while he dropped $500,000 at the blackjack table, all against casino markers.

The man sued the casino to wipe out the markers because he was hammered. A judge dismissed the lawsuit. “He said he shouldn’t have to pay his losses because he was so drunk,” commented CBS News analyst Rikki Kleinman on the case. “My next thought is, well, what if he’d won?”

OK, I did. Once.

I related this story in my book How to Win Millions Playing Slot Machines… Or Lose Trying, a hilarious 2004 release that was read by tens of people. It was about 25 years ago, at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. I was at a blackjack table, playing and drinking whiskey, and the next thing I knew, I woke up the next day in my hotel room. Next to me was more than $500 in chips from the blackjack table. I had sat down with around $50.

For the record, I didn’t sue the casino.

I probably wouldn’t have sued them if I had lost. It wasn’t that I drank too much; it was that one lapse of judgment, when I asked the bartender to add a shot of ketamine to my Maker’s Mark.

Man, I’ll never do that again.

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.