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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

How to always win at a casino

     People love gambling but hate taxes. Which is odd, because both do exactly the same thing: take your money.
    Frankly, I prefer taxes. At least with taxes, your lost lucre often goes to good use: building roads, funding schools, and such, rather than gilding a toilet in some casino owner’s yacht.
     Then again, I am not a gambler, and nothing is more ridiculous than passion you don’t share.
     Despite lack of interest in gambling, personally, I closely followed the opening of Bally’s temporary casino at the Medinah Temple, having tracked the decades-long chase after the will-o-the-wisp of a Chicago gambling den. Now that one’s actually open, a visit seemed in order.
     Stepping into the Medinah Temple had none of the existential sorrow of Vegas casinos. I’d pondered how much to gamble and, more importantly, whether I could expense my losses. While I have in the past stuck the newspaper with a variety of vices in the name of research, from a $200 bottle of champagne at the Ritz-Carlton bar, to table dances and tips to strippers at Thee Doll House on Kingsbury, something told me that Chicago Public Media might look askance at financing my casino spree. So I figured: eat my losses. Besides, a gambler should never bet anything he isn’t prepared to lose. I initially thought: $100 but then dialed it back to $50. Frugal.
     That plan lasted until I walked in the door. When I told the security guard this was my first visit, he directed me to a desk where I was issued a card — a Bally’s Rewards card, with “Pro” emblazoned in the corner. “Pro?” That made me smile. If I’m a pro, I’d hate to see what an amateur looks like.
     A quick glance at the cover of the brochure I was given revealed the truth. Pro is the lowest rung. The others: Star, Superstar and Legend. “LEVEL UP YOUR LOYALTY” it declares. Perks include free check cashing to cover your losses. I’m surprised there isn’t access to a VIP pawn shop.
     The card also came with a $10 credit. I headed to the slot machines. This $10 grubstake was unexpected. I’d point out the echo of drug dealers — your first hit is free — but don’t traffic in the obvious.

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  1. They sure know how to keep people paying up, esp. at that poker table you mention. No thanks. Ah, the chocolate sounds great.

  2. The only way to always win is to never enter.

    1. Same here. Although I'll probably go just to see what it looks like.

    2. Planned to go tonight, just to have a looksee...

  3. I look at gaming as just another form of entertainment. Bought tickets to a bulls game $315 for a pair level 3 no less. Concert tickets to see Dylan were nearly 300 the Opera same thing.

    At least when I go to the casino sometimes I leave with more money than I brought.
    I haven't been to the new one yet. Haven't been at all in a couple years. But it's fun and I enjoy the people watching.

  4. As gambling is not Neil's jam, this post figured to go in another direction. Who walks into a casino with no cash? Media promotion of gambling today is inescapable and laser focused on sports betting. Cell phones make it way too easy. Lotteries and casinos are yesterday's drugs of choice. Yes to the dark chocolate though.

  5. Just before reading today's issue I read about Mayor over his head's budget that seems to rely somewhat on revenue from this casino. Guess what? Revenues have not met expectations! Next solution? Raise property taxes and lay people off.Yeah, that's the ticket.

  6. Spot on ending: "I said I’d eat my losses, and I did." Guessing that was the inspiration of the piece preceding the trip to the casino.


  7. When I saw the title of today’s column my first answer was, stay home?

  8. How to always win at a casino? Own the casino.

    In my younger days I spent some years in England, where every pub has had gambling machines for decades, and quickly learned how to lose all my spending money. I was slightly relieved to not have that temptation anymore when returning to the U.S., and I stay far away from them now that they're over here, too.

    That said, I've been successfully auctioning vintage items on eBay for almost twenty years now, and I know very well that the satisfaction I get from seeing the bidding soar in the final seconds of an auction comes from the same place as staring at a fruit machine or one-armed bandit and hoping that the next spin will be a winner.

    The difference is that I have much better control over the outcome of my auctions than I ever would in a casino. I can refine my listing techniques, learn what sells vs. what doesn't, find good sources for what I'm restoring and reselling, and thus reduce my odds of a bad random outcome, as opposed to walking into a casino and being faced with the same odds of winning or losing that were there yesterday, and the day before, and last week, and last month, and every day beyond that.

  9. For me, the best way to win at a casino is to just stay home. My wife and I are not gamblers. She's always been frugal, and I've always been cheap. If there's an antonym for "big spender, then I'm it.

    Got gambling out of my system early. Poker in high school and college. Mostly lost. Hated losing. Going to the track can be fun, but playing the ponies successfully takes more than just's an acquired skill. Down in Florida, I once bet on a nag that paid 25-1. Once. Winning big on a horse because you like his name doesn't happen very often.

    Cleveland opened its casino in 2012 with a lot of hoopla, amid the idea that the site in the center of downtown was just temporary, and that a Vegas-style venue would soon be built at a riverfront location. That never happened. They're still fleecing the chumps in the same spot on Public Square, and it's not a BFD anymore. It looks exactly like what it is, a repurposed department store. Watch "A Christmas Story" (1983) again. It's where they shot the scenes in which Ralphie goes to see Santa. As a casino, it's not such of a much.

    My first time ever in our downtown casino was in 2013, after all the hoo-ha had died down. Too poor for the tables, and the slots had no appeal, so I headed straight for the video poker machines, where I started losing, and fast. Then I drew four deuces. Saw the lights and heard the bells and the buzzers and watched the numbers roll upward. I had deliberately picked a quiet corner in which to play, so nobody even noticed except my wife, who squealed with delight.

    The poker machines are programmed to start you on a losing streak after you win big. Which is exactly what happened. I woke up. Cashed out. Took my winnings --a hundred bucks--and caught a train home. I've been back exactly one more time. Lost early and often.

    It's been years since those two casino visits, and I have no plans to go back. I never gargle, I never gamble, I never smoke at all. And I rarely toke. Legalization probably won't change that. In my geezerhood, my last remaining vice is food, especially seafood. And, yeah, when I seafood, I still eat it. (sorry).


  10. 🚶🏽‍♀️Trans John/Karen 3/22November 15, 2023 at 1:33 PM

    One of the few compulsive maladies I seem to be uninterested in. Alcohol, tobacco, and having to run out and buy any record I heard on the car radio that I liked were foremost among them. Alcohol I beat, and after smoking two packs a day (minimum) for 36 years, I totally lost interest a few days after I started chemo and radiation therapy. NOT because I had anything wrong with my lungs, amazingly and ironically. They’re perfectly fine. It was my stomach. Funny how things turn out. Every once in a while I dream about lighting one up, congratulating myself for just having one while lighting up a second, and etc. I always referred to myself as a true patriot, supporting the federal, state, county, and city governments on my tobacco habit alone.
    Don’t drive anymore, so the car radio temptation is gone. If I hear something on the internet, I can take comfort in the fact that I can hear it again by googling it as many times as I like. The bonus is that there’s often a hot video to accompany it.
    Having spent a 15 year interlude at one point working and managing convenience stores…I hate lottery. For a lot of reasons that it would take all day to enumerate. I’ve also considered it nothing more than voluntary taxation. The thing is, if the people who spend sometimes inordinate amounts on lottery tickets -too often they’re the people who really can’t afford to throw away their money. Try telling them that, though- were asked to cough up those dollars in actual taxation, we’d never hear the end of it.
    Like casino gambling, everybody has heard of somebody striking it big ($20! Wow! On a scratch-off ticket!), perhaps they were even lucky enough to have won something substantial themselves. Never been inside a casino, never had even the slightest interest in visiting Vegas, Tahoe, Reno, or Atlantic City. Spent a pleasant day once with family at Arlington Race Track, listening to my then 6 year old nephew excitedly ‘voting’ for horses.
    As adults, it’s our money, presumably we earned it and the right to spend it as we want. It’s usually not a matter of morality, although addiction too often is a factor. As someone who spent over 50 years working in retail, I always thought it was healthier having that money (and time consumed) going to the business I worked for, instead of the state of Illinois. The idea of spending my hard-earned money on something enjoyable, not only for myself but other people in my life, wins out over the remote possibility of striking it rich. Especially if Elvis isn’t in the building.

  11. I was appalled when they let bars have slot machines. Now there are over 40 establishments in Berwyn that have a mini type bar and 5 slot machines.

    Poor and working people are losing their shirts and the State is still broke.

    Illinois policy has just made Gamblers Anonymous meetings 10x bigger.

    STUPID policy.

    I worked at a casino. They could care less about the table games 90% of the revenue cones from slots.

    The public was better off with the Chicago Outfit running the gambling. They'd at least cut problem gamblers off.

  12. I found the key to visiting a casino. Is that after you win and you have more money than you came with leave? Even if that's only 5 minutes? As soon as you win and you're ahead leave.

    I always bring $200 that I'm planning to spend and at some point I usually find myself up. Sometimes the whole $200 disappears. This is also time to leave. I've never brought my debit card to a casino
    I'm sure that over the years and my many visits that I have spent tons of money I would say thousands of dollars. I know I've spent thousands of dollars on many other things traveling , restaurants, concerts? They're all fun, just as I won't go to a restaurant or a concert every night. I don't go to a casino every night.
    I've got money in the bank account and I have a lot of fun. Not all gamblers are degenerates


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