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Royals and Penguins

I want to play at the Currency Club casino. It's in London, and it's like no other casino.

Royals and Penguins

I want to play at the Currency Club casino. It’s in London, and it’s like no other casino.

It’s at Buckingham Palace.

It seems a member of the Queen’s Royal Protection Command got caught running a betting shop called the Currency Club right at the palace. But that’s not the funny part. (Here at Frankly Speaking Inc., we only deal with the funny part.) What came out at the trial last month was hilarious.

In addition to running the private casino, the Queen’s guards allegedly showed up for work drunk all the time, and would sit on her throne when she wasn’t there. They slept off hangovers in palace bedrooms.

My personal favorite trial revelation: One of the guards said the Queen has a yellow rubber ducky with a teeny little crown on its head.

I was going to write about this, but it isn’t really about the gaming industry, is it? Therefore, I am prohibited by strict policy of our publishing company from writing about it in this space. (Whew! I’m glad I realized that.) Let’s see what I can make fun of in the actual gaming industry.

It’s my job, you know?

Well, if I can’t play at Buckingham Palace, I’ll play in Pittsburgh. Yes, that’s right. If you flip to one of our fine features this month (OK, I wrote it), you’ll see that the casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is open. If you’re a regular reader of this column-and hey, who isn’t?-you know that Pittsburgh is where I was born and raised. And if you look anywhere in the country, we Pittsburghers are all over the place, thanks to our old steel economy collapsing. I see Steelers shirts and Penguins shirts wherever I go. (OK, not in Bulgaria. But I did see one in Amsterdam.)

Yes, we, the Pittsburgh Nation, can be pretty annoying at times. Sorry.

But our annoying regional pride is why the Rivers Casino will do some great business. The place was designed to take advantage of the fact people like living in Pittsburgh, and love their teams. Look at where it is. Right next to Heinz Field, home of the Steelers. You can walk there. You can go into Rivers after the game to wait out the parking lot crowds. There will even be a perch to do that, starting in October. The Wheelhouse Bar will overlook Heinz Field. And it’s a sports bar. How cool is that?

The man who runs the place really knows his stuff. Ed Fasulo’s been in the business since 1969, when he opened the International in Las Vegas as F&B director. The guy used to open up the kitchen to make sandwiches for Elvis in the middle of the night. He’s been all over the place since then, from Vegas to Atlantic City back to Vegas then to Iowa, was it? Anyway, the man knows how to run a casino, he ended up in Pittsburgh, and they love him there. (Even if he is a Patriots fan.)

I went to the casino’s grand opening-hundreds of people huddled together in sweltering heat. They just wanted to get in the front door. Fasulo, the mayor, the county executive (he got booed), Don Barden, Neil Bluhm… all saying essentially the same thing as sweaty people were shouting “Open the door!” Bluhm got about three words out and thanked everyone, then they cut the ribbon, just as the crowd was about to get
battering rams and light torches.

Inside, there was the usual casino stuff, in a really nice atmosphere. Playing here is like playing in Vegas, only with lower payback percentages. Oh, and three rivers, and pro sports, and my aunt’s house up the street.

That’s why I had fun there, and that’s why most Pittsburghers will have fun there. It’s in Pittsburgh. I’m sure the people who live there feel the same way. (I mean people who live in Pittsburgh, not in the casino.) They even picked up on our pride by naming different areas after local stuff. Club 446, because there are that many local bridges. “Andrew’s” steakhouse, because of Andrew Carnegie, Andrew Mellon and Andy Warhol, famous Andrews from Pittsburgh. (Like the Andrews Sisters, right?)

Yes, it was nice to visit my old stomping grounds, but I’m really looking forward to my trip to Vegas this month. I love Vegas. (Lots of Pittsburgh people there.)

After Vegas, I think I’ll go to Buckingham Palace.  I’m going to get the guards drunk and put a Steelers shirt on the Queen’s throne.

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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