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Only in America

Only in America

Welcome to this month’s installment of “Frankly Speaking,” or, in simplified Chinese, “???.” (That’s in honor of this month’s G2E Asia.) This edition of ??? will focus on a few things that could only happen in these here United States of America—casino crime with a creative flair, and criminal stupidity on the part of politicians.

Let’s do the political thing first, because it’s something which, in an expression coined by Family Guy’s Peter Griffin, really “grinds my gears.”

In Ohio, where four planned casinos promise to bring in much-needed revenue—not to mention the groundbreaking idea of there being something to do in Toledo after the sun goes down—the politicians are getting ready to spoil the party. A bill in the state House would have the state taxing all wagers at the four casinos, instead of the casino’s win, which is what the casinos keep after winners are paid.

In other words, if a guy comes in with a $20 bill and ends up playing all day—winning $40, losing $30, winning $50, and on and on—the casino gets taxed on the $1,000 in credits he actually wagered, which is the amount normally translated into players-club points.

As I understand it, under the plan, the state also would be entitled to a free buffet.

Anyway, Penn National Gaming, whose two planned casinos include the Something To Do In Toledo Casino Resort and the Something To Do In Columbus Besides Watching Football Casino Resort (OK, they’re both Hollywood Casinos), did officially oppose the tax, but nevertheless soldiered on, naming a GM for the Toledo casino and continuing construction on both its properties.

But Rock Gaming, which is building casinos in Cincinnati and Cleveland with Caesars Entertainment, halted construction on its properties until the state tells Rock President Dan Gilbert how much tax he’s going to have to pay. In press reports, Gilbert noted correctly that when you’re investing $2 billion in a state, you should at least know how much money you get to keep as a result.

Apparently, an L.A. consultant told Governor John Kasich the 33 percent revenue tax the voters approved for Ohio casinos was, according to one news report, a “raw deal,” and Kasich told his buddies in the legislature to fix it. They’ll fix it, alright. Soon it will be like Maryland, where the 67 percent tax has made building a casino less popular than establishing a crack house. (Which would, incidentally, have a much larger profit margin.)

All of this is further evidence that too many U.S. politicians view the casino industry as a mark for what can only be described as robbery. Which brings us to South Dakota.

(Come on, not all segues can be home runs.)

The police in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, are investigating two casino robberies that happened over the course of three days. One was at the Little Vegas Casino at the “Lie’brary Bar.” A news report says the robber was in a hooded sweatshirt with cloth covering his face. Another report says the robber was a guy dressed as a mummy.

So, come one. Was the guy dressed as a mummy or not? You figure a guy who takes the trouble to dress himself as a mummy and get to a casino by 7:30 a.m. to rob the place should get something for his trouble. But he’s probably going to get jail, because the casino is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers in Sioux Falls.

In particular, citizens should keep an eye out for any mummies spending money recklessly.

In our final news item this month, in Nevada, law enforcement officials figured out that the guy who robbed the Bellagio last year wearing a motorcycle helmet was the same guy who robbed the Suncoast only days before that event, also wearing a motorcycle helmet. (Let me guess. The helmet tipped them off, right?) He’s now charged with both crimes.

As you recall, this was the genius who got fingered for the Bellagio heist after he tried to sell the casino gaming chips he stole over the internet, using the moniker “Biker Bandit.” An undercover cop arrested him after he posed as a buyer for the chips.

As I understand it, they arranged a meeting at the Ohio state house, where Biker Bandit had just introduced a casino tax bill.

Or maybe it was Maryland. I don’t recall.

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.