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M&M’s and Strip Clubs

An iconic candy comes under the gambling microscope, and giant bingo balls

M&M’s and Strip Clubs

For me, the name “M&M’s” conjures up fond childhood memories of digging into the Halloween sack for those little bags, hoping I didn’t get the peanut ones. (Or worse yet, an apple.)

Hey, I knew Halloween was a gamble. But I never looked at an M&M and thought about gambling.

But the Mars candy company, which makes M&M’s, is now being accused of using the candy to promote gambling to children.

It started when Dr. Samantha Thomas, a youth gambling expert and associate professor at Australia’s Deakin University, was walking by the M&M’s World store in London’s Leicester Square—where you can buy more than 100 selections of M&M’s, stuffed M&M’s candy guys, clever dispensers and other M&M’s merchandise.

Among the merchandise was an M&M’s dispenser styled like a slot machine. It looks like an old-school one-armed bandit, with three reels that spin, matching symbols causing a hopper to spit out a big bunch of M&M’s.

Shocked, Thomas got Parliament involved. Ministers sent Mars a cross-party letter protesting the M&M’s slot. “We were shocked when it was brought to our attention that M&M were selling a slot machine-style game, marketed at children, in their store in Leicester Square,” the letter read.

“Our research shows that children often are unable to understand the risks associated with slot machines,” Thomas told The Guardian. “They remember the bright lights and positive sounds associated with the machines, and think they are a fun way to make money.”

Mars removed the M&M’s slots from the London store.

OK, I’m as sensitive about promoting responsible gaming as anyone, but let’s get real here. If you follow this thinking to its logical conclusion, we’ll need to eliminate playing cards from every home. Yahtzee? It’s got dice. That’s out too. And don’t even get me started on carnival games.

Kids are not going to look at that M&M’s dispenser as anything more than a fun way to get candy. When I was a kid, I had toy guns in holsters. I’m 62, and so far, I haven’t shot anyone. And I experienced no ill effects from playing with my favorite toy, “My First Slot Machine” by Fisher-Price.

Also, any kid who thinks a real slot machine will pay out money like that M&M’s dispenser shoots out candy is in for a rude awakening.

Of course, although I’ve seen pictures, I’m really only speculating on the nature of the dispenser. Does it accept coins? Bill acceptor, maybe? Are kids blowing their allowances going for the big M&M?

Is there a high hold percentage for the kid who owns the machine? Is there a double-or-nothing option? Does it give thousands of M&M’s to one lucky kid while hundreds of other kids get nothing? Do kids earn free M&M’s spins? Free Happy Meal buffets? Does it…

OK, that’s all I’ve got.

Moving on, Gila River Casinos in Phoenix set the Guinness World Record for the largest set of bingo balls and the largest bingo card in an event May 3 at its Lone Butte Casino. To celebrate the casino group’s 25th anniversary, the casino held a jumbo bingo game in its parking lot, using 75 giant bingo balls—each four feet around—and a 20-by-20-foot bingo card.

This is just what I need as I enter my golden years and face the consequent rapid progression of physical decrepitude. No squinting required to see numbers on a 20-foot card, right? As long as someone else is slinging those giant balls around (insert joke here), I’m all set for bingo after retirement.

Finally, we’re all happy the gaming capital of Las Vegas will soon be home to the Las Vegas Raiders of the NFL, but no one is happier than the folks who run the Crazy Horse III strip club. This fine establishment—according to its website, voted “Best Gentleman’s Club in Las Vegas”—happens to be a stone’s throw from the construction site of the Raiders’ stadium at I-15 and Russell Road.

The club’s owners report that daytime business has tripled since stadium construction began.

It’s yet another example of how a big construction project benefits the entire community—and how some construction workers have way too much time off during the day. I’m wondering if their union contract requires lap-dance breaks. (I know mine does.)

Maybe they’ll build the “Crazy Horse IV” as part of the Raiders stadium. I’m pretty confident Raiders fans are going to have plenty of free time between touchdowns. (Hey!)

Don’t worry. It will be a classy joint. Complete with M&M’s dispensers.

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.