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Sports Betting and the Chocolate Flower

Sports betting, naughty nurses and a chocolate goalie. Who could ask for anything more?

Sports Betting and the Chocolate Flower

Well, this month, I had planned to write about the ancient loaded die they dug up in Norway, or the health study of Japanese gamblers that enlisted participants in pachinko parlors with invitations from “young women wearing mildly erotic nurse costumes,” or a chocolate goalie.

Don’t worry, I’ll get to all of that. But as I was contemplating all this earth-shattering news, the Supreme Court of the United States did what it always does. It issued a major gaming-related decision two days before my magazine was going to print.

OK, maybe SCOTUS doesn’t always do that.

Alright, it’s the first time. But still. It’s pushed naughty nurses in pachinko parlors right off the front page.

Now, we’ll have to stop the presses. Throw out the front page! Copy! Copy!

Yes, there’s that part of me that’s still steeped in the traditions of print journalism, in which I began my career when we still did typesetting and used X-Acto knives to cut and paste copy. Of course, here in the future, by the time I had mentally digested the news of the May 14 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court declaring the federal ban on sports betting to be unconstitutional, the story was already all over the web, including articles from all the major online and print news organizations.

Ah, scoops just aren’t what they used to be.

Anyway, we had to cover it, but thankfully, our publisher Roger Gros offered to handle it, if only to lure me off the ledge onto which I had climbed.

The Supreme Court declared the prohibition on sports wagering imposed by the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act to be unconstitutional. New Jersey casinos and racetracks will now have sports books. Scores of other states are lining up to start sports betting programs.

Personally, I’m not a big sports bettor. I think I placed two sports bets in Las Vegas during the entire three-plus decades I’ve been writing about the industry. Both bets were on my Pittsburgh Steelers, and both times, the Steelers lost, so my natural conclusion was that they lost because I bet on them.

Hey, what else could it be?

Perhaps I’ll place sports bets now that they’ll be available to me wherever I go, including, presumably, at the touch of my smartphone. But never on Pittsburgh teams. It’s the kiss of death.

In the end, I welcome the Supreme Court’s decision, if only because I can now quit typing the acronym “PASPA.” As acronyms go, it doesn’t have a pleasant sound when you say it. Kind of like a sick cough or sneeze.

“PASpa! Oh, pardon me.”

Now, on to that other stuff. Archaeologists in Norway dug up a wooden die believed to be about 600 years old. Instead of the normal number of pips, ranging from one through six (not counting Gladys Knight), it has no ones or twos. It has two fours and two fives, so it rolls big every time.

Wow. Medieval dice cheats. “Come on, big roll! Daddy needs some new chain mail!”

Meanwhile, in my latest issue of Cosmos magazine (“The Science of Everything”), there’s a report on a furor resulting from a health study on gamblers conducted by the British Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (another periodical I never miss) along with the University of Tokyo. According to the story, the researchers solicited gamblers in Tokyo pachinko parlors to undergo a health checkup for the study by sending out a fleet of young women in sexy nurse costumes.

While the researchers later apologized for the sexist methodology—blaming it on an “improbable chain of accidental human processing errors” (I hate when that happens)—they defended the study, which sought to examine subjects who had just been exposed to “hedonic stimuli.”

I agree that the costumes made the effort “derogatory and disrespectful,” as one woman complained. Still, I’d like to know how many gamblers they would have been able to pry from their machines with an invitation from some beer-gutted, stubbly guy named Joe.

Finally, they put a Chocolate Flower at the Bellagio. That’s “Flower” as in Marc-Andre Fleury, the goalie of the phenom Vegas Golden Knights. Outside of the Bellagio’s Patisserie is a 5-foot, 90-pound chocolate sculpture of The Flower, who was my Pittsburgh Penguins’ franchise goalie before the expansion draft landed him in the gaming capital.

Chocolate Flower sits on a base made from 20 pounds of Rice Krispies Treats.

If the Knights are still in it as you read this, I’ll be headed to a legal Atlantic City sports book to put my money on them. Then, I’m eating the statue.

Fleu-ry! Fleu-ry!

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.