Neighborhood and Downtown casinos tend to have more low limit tables than Strip casinos. Many think they also have better odds for players. The El Cortez on Fremont Street has plenty of low-limit games and blackjack from a single or double-deck shoe, plus penny and nickel coin-operated machines. Caesars Palace is an iconic Las Vegas casino, and it's known for its upscale atmosphere. This is a place with plenty of high limit games, so come prepared to spend some money.
Poker players can enjoy a table poker room that offers a daily tournament schedule. A race and sports book give players a vast array of games to watch and bet on, plus private booths with their own individual screens. You can also try out the newest in skill-based games with games like Cannonbeard's Treasure, a combination of cards, skill and naval warfare. Numerous restaurants, an A-list of entertainers and an upscale shopping mall are also on the grounds of the hotel, in case you decide to give Lady Luck a break for a while.
Recommended for Casinos because : With a wide array of games, a race, sportsbook and their own sports betting app, Caesars gives players plenty of ways to win. Terrisa's expert tip : New games from Gamblit Gaming offer interactive gaming, including a new take on poker. The two to four-person game starts with two cards and when the rest of the deck is shown, players have to grab the cards they need for a good hand.
The property's history includes Ben "Bugsy" Siegel, who was once a partial owner. Today the vintage casino attracts patrons who want a taste of Old Vegas. Gamblers will find a large selection of low-limits games, a casual atmosphere, and a large supply of colorful customers who keep the vibe authentic. Perhaps most notably, gamblers can also find single and double deck blackjack. Las Vegas got its start Downtown, thanks to places like the El Cortez.
Today, it's still a reason to make the trip to Fremont Street. Recommended for Casinos because : The El Cortez hasn't lost its vintage Vegas ambiance, offering coin-operated machines and single and double deck blackjack. Terrisa's expert tip : For players who find the newer coin-less gaming machines a little odd, the El Cortez offers over original coin machines, including penny and nickel machines.
South Point's location on the far end of Las Vegas Boulevard means it's not actually a part of the Strip, which is a bonus for visitors. The casino is one of those with aspects that appeal to both residents and tourists, giving its guests the benefits of both lower prices and plenty of amenities. The casino offers a wealth of machine play, with over 2, slot and poker machines. A poker room, bingo room and a race and sports book round out the gaming options here.
Recommended for Casinos because : With a massive number of slot and poker machines, South Point's casino is a great choice for players who prefer machine play. Check the website for coming events that feature horses of all kinds and rodeo-style performances. This beautiful resort on the far west side of the city is one of those Vegas casinos that attracts both locals and tourists.
Non-smokers can also enjoy a game of poker in Red Rock Resort's smoke-free poker room. A private high-limit room is available for high rollers, a mobile app is available for wagering and there's a seat race and sportsbook with a foot video wall for sports fans to watch and bet on all the latest games.
Recommended for Casinos because : Red Rock's casino has a solid variety of games available, including a few not commonly found at Strip casinos like bingo and keno. Terrisa's expert tip : In addition to a casino, Red Rock also offers guests plenty of non-gaming activities, like bowling and movie theaters. Downtown Summerlin, with its shops, restaurants and attractions, is also nearby.
The Palms recently underwent a renovation and is proudly reclaiming its reputation as a hip and trendy hang-out. With a location just off the Strip, the casino enjoys a clientele that includes locals as well as visitors.
For Vegas casinos, a strong local presence is thought to give the players slightly better odds although it's worth noting that the house always has the advantage. The Palms claims to have the loosest slots in town, and with over 1, machines to choose from, you've got plenty of chances to find a winning one. A generously sized casino floor is filled with a variety of games like Baccarat, blackjack, poker, roulette, and craps.
High-stakes games include no-limit Texas Hold'em. Recommended for Casinos because : The Palms offers players a trendy atmosphere and plenty of places to play in its large casino. Terrisa's expert tip : If you're looking for low limit games, casinos off the Strip like the Palms are a good bet. With a stronger locals presence, players will find more low-limits tables and many believe the odds are better for properties off the Strip.
Just as you'd expect from a classic Las Vegas casino, The Mirage has the full array of expected games: blackjack, baccarat, craps, roulette, a variety of poker and casino war. Guests can even enjoy non-smoking tables, once an unusual feature in Las Vegas but something more people are requesting.
A full-service race and sports book will let you watch and wager on all the games, which are broadcast on huge 85' HD projection screens. The Mirage's poker room is consistently acknowledged as one of the preferred places to try your hand with Lady Luck, with Hold'em limit and no-limit , Omaha and 7 card stud available.
Recommended for Casinos because : The Mirage casino offers a wide range of games appealing to both novice and experienced players, non-smoking tables and a mobile app. The sports betting app allows guess to place bets no matter where they are on the property.
The D in Downtown Las Vegas has been around for a while. Originally opened as the Sundance, later changed to Fitzgeralds, and now in its latest incarnation as The D, this long-time Fremont Street casino hotel is going stronger than ever. On the first floor, players will find a standard array of table games, slots and video gaming. On the second floor, the vibe is vintage with coin-operated machines.
On the second floor, Vue Bar gives you a great view of Fremont Street perfect for watching the Viva Vision light show. Recommended for Casinos because : The D's assortment of modern and vintage games ensures players they'll find a table or video game that's just right for them. Terrisa's expert tip : The D is home to the city's only remaining Sigma Derby machine, a mechanized horse racing game.
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If the same symbol aligned on the payline on all three reels when they stopped spinning, the player would win a jackpot that varied in size depending on the symbol. The odds were straightforward and not terribly hard to calculate. But where each reel stops is no longer determined by the force of a good pull of the lever. The physical reels are not spinning until they run out of momentum, as it might appear. Thus it is possible for game designers to reduce the odds of hitting a big jackpot from 1 in 10, to 1 in million.
Moreover, it is almost impossible for a slots player to have any idea of the actual odds of winning any jackpot, however large or small. The intent is to give the player the impression of having almost won—when, in fact, he or she is no closer to having won than if the symbol had not appeared on the reel at all.
Some slot machines are specifically programmed to offer up this near-miss result far more often than they would if they operated by sheer chance, and the psychological impact can be powerful, leading players to think, I was so close. Maybe next time. Nelson Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School and the author of Gambling and the Law , has written, Nevada regulations operate on the theory that a sophisticated player would be able to tell the real odds of winning by playing a machine long enough.
Research has shown that an elevated number of near-miss results does increase playing time. Indeed, as early as , B. In the United States, by contrast, the federal government granted the patent for virtual reel mapping in IGT purchased the rights to it in and later licensed the patent to other companies.
Of course, classic, spinning-reel slot machines make up only a fraction of the electronic gaming machines available at most casinos. Technology has evolved such that many machines lack physical reels altogether, instead merely projecting the likenesses of spinning symbols onto a video screen. Instead of betting on one simple payline, players are able to bet on multiple patterns of paylines—as many as on some machines.
This allows for more opportunities to win, but the results are often deceptive. You can get to of these false wins, which we also call losses , an hour. Because the machine is telling the player he or she is winning, the gradual siphoning is less noticeable. Related to the video slot machines are video-poker terminals, which IGT began popularizing in The standard five-card-draw game shows five cards, each offering players the option to hold or replace by drawing a card from the 47 remaining in the virtual deck.
The games require more skill—or at least a basic understanding of probabilities—than the slot machines do. As such, they appeal to people who want to have some sense of exerting control over the outcome. They saw, for instance, patrons going more often for four of a kind than the royal flush, a rarer but more lucrative hand, and they adjusted the machines accordingly.
Video poker also offers its own version of losses disguised as wins. Whatever the exact figure, the house odds make it such that if a player plays long enough, she will eventually lose her money. T echnological innovations have not only rendered electronic gaming machines wildly profitable; they have also, according to experts, made them more addictive. A crucial element in modern gambling machines is speed.
Individual hands or spins can be completed in just three or four seconds. For many gambling addicts, the zone itself becomes more desirable even than winning. Players have gone for 14, 15, 16 hours or more playing continuously. They have become so absorbed in the machines that they left their young children unattended in cars, wet themselves without noticing, and neglected to eat for hours.
Casinos and game designers have come up with many ways to keep patrons at their machines and playing rapidly. The chairs are ergonomically designed so that someone can sit comfortably for long stretches. Winnings can be converted back to credits or printed on vouchers to be redeemed later. Waitresses come by to take drink orders, obviating the need for players to get up at all. Public-policy advocates compare slot machines to cigarettes. Both, they claim, are products specifically and deliberately engineered to have addictive properties that are known to hook users.
Eubanks was the lead counsel for the Justice Department in successful federal litigation against the tobacco industry between and She joined Noffsinger in representing Stacy Stevens after he convinced her that the deception used by the gambling industry paralleled that of the tobacco industry.
The data they track in real time on player cards alert them to these pain points: a big loss, for instance, or when credits start to run low after a dry run. Hosts are also on the lookout for telling behavior, such as someone striking a machine in frustration or slumping over it in discouragement.
When hosts spot someone in a state like this, they may swoop in and offer a voucher for some free credits, a drink, or perhaps a meal in the restaurant, where the player can take a break until the resistance passes and he can resume gambling. When players do exhaust all their funds, casinos will sometimes loan them additional money.
In , she spent an entire night gambling at Caesars Riverboat Casino, drinking strong alcoholic beverages provided for free. When she eventually came to the end of her money playing blackjack, the casino offered her a counter check, basically a promissory note, to enable her to keep playing.
She signed the check and gambled away the money. That happened five more times. Noffsinger countersued on her behalf. Experts say casinos should be aware that when they extend credit to losing patrons, they are by definition enabling problem gamblers.
Casinos might similarly be held liable for the financial consequences suffered by gamblers to whom they extend credit beyond a certain limit. In , the widow of a man who killed himself after racking up insurmountable debt at a Mississippi casino sued the casino under an extrapolation of dramshop laws.
So far, no U. Nor should they, according to the gambling industry. Nothing of that sort exists to measure what the level is to have gambled too much. Mountaineer Casino and IGT both declined repeated requests for comment. It does not, however, prevent them from losing money if they visit a casino despite the restriction. Some experts believe self-exclusion lists are not effective, because they seem to be erratically enforced. Despite the presence of sophisticated surveillance technology, patrons are not routinely screened for their self-exclusion status.
Given that casino operators and slot-machine manufacturers are adamant that the blame for gambling addiction resides with the individual, it is not surprising that research by the industry-funded National Center for Responsible Gaming favors studies directed toward confirming this conclusion. Members of the board of directors, she asserts, do not make research decisions, and the center has a separate scientific advisory board. She says that the problem is rooted in the individual.
Independent research not funded by the NCRG has shown how false wins, near misses, and other such features influence gamblers, especially the way they perceive expected outcomes. Most of them are making correct conclusions based on deceptive information. Keith Whyte, the executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling, says that although the industry should have a role in research and public-education efforts, it cannot be effective on its own.
The group, which maintains a neutral stance toward legal gambling, receives a large share of its funding from the industry. A lmost a decade after the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act launched the dramatic expansion of casino gambling into new jurisdictions, the federal government appointed a commission to study the impact of the proliferation. Despite that warning, states have been unable to resist the continued expansion of casino gambling.
One reason for the ongoing growth is the financial clout of the industry itself. Many states provide tribal casinos with regional monopolies in exchange for revenues skimmed off the top of casino profits—as much as 30 to 40 percent in some places.
Kansas actually owns the games and operations of nontribal casinos. New Jersey, Delaware, and Rhode Island have all provided financial bailouts to faltering casinos. Communities typically build casinos based on a mirage of false promises: that they will provide jobs, fund schools, and boost the local economy.
It should not be allowed by anyone, anywhere, anytime. In defense of its products and practices, the gambling industry insists that it is heavily regulated and therefore safe. Nelson Rose, the author of Gambling and the Law. Each state in which gambling is legal has set up its own commission to regulate the industry, but there seems to be a symbiotic relationship between regulators and the industry.
Many gaming-commission members—including those who approve applications for casino licenses—are advised by consultants for private companies also on casino payrolls. Yet such essential disclosure is not required of electronic gaming machines. As it happens, the Nevada State Gaming Control Board addressed exactly this question during its hearings on virtual-reel technology.
They seem unwilling to deal with the social costs. Essentially what the West Virginia Supreme Court has said is that gambling interests in West Virginia are immune from liability. Former West Virginia House Majority Leader Rick Staton has expressed regret over his role in expanding legalized gambling in the state. There have been more people who have lost a lot of money, there have been more people who have had to file bankruptcy, there have been more people who have embezzled, there have been more people who have committed suicide.
And that, according to several experts, is what it will probably take—a court trial, which would open access to private industry documents. They cannot afford to have that made public, because it would confirm what everybody knows: that one- to two-thirds of their income comes from the roughly 10 to 20 percent of their customers who are pathological and problem gamblers.
The more lawyers read about it, the more they are going to start smelling blood in the water. It just takes for a case to be brought up in the right jurisdiction. A photograph of him later that week, when he was deep-sea fishing in Cabo San Lucas, a place that usually brought him happiness, reveals the heaviness in his expression—his eyes defeated, his smile gone. In the months after he was fired, Stevens tried taking the antidepressant Paxil and saw a therapist, but he did not admit to Stacy that he was still gambling almost every day.
As spring turned into summer, he knew that charges from the IRS were forthcoming following its investigation into his embezzlement and that even after serving time in prison, he would likely still be on the hook for the hundreds of thousands of dollars he owed in back taxes and penalties.
His former employer seemed close to pressing charges, having put the police on notice. He would never be able to work in the financial sector again. Once the affair hit the papers, his family would be dragged through the gantlet of small-town gossip and censure.
He could see no way to spare them other than to sacrifice himself. By mid-afternoon on August 13, , Stacy had started to worry. Please come home. Stevens had just called him. Bender had tried to talk him out of killing himself, but Stevens had hung up. Bender said he would call They found Stevens sitting on the railroad tie by his Jeep.
Skip to content. Sign in My Account Subscribe. The Atlantic Crossword. The Print Edition. Latest Issue Past Issues. How Casinos Enable Gambling Addicts Modern slot machines develop an unbreakable hold on many players—some of whom wind up losing their jobs, their families, and even, as in the case of Scott Stevens, their lives.
Story by John Rosengren December Issue. Other experts, particularly those who opine about new Native American casinos, second this skepticism. A new tribal casino planned for Rohnert Park, Calif. In Massachusetts, for instance, which formally embraced gambling in late , one of the biggest driving factors for building commercial casinos was the mass exodus of residents who regularly drove over state lines to gamble at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods n Connecticut, both Native American properties.
New York is considering legalizing casino gambling to keep citizen dollars away from the same spots. Of course with more casinos comes greater demand, as well as a greater appetite for new games and new amenities. In markets such as New York, where the legislature recently legalized slots at a handful of racetracks across the state dubbed racinos , this means players can now spend quality time with one-armed bandits the computerized kind when they play the ponies.
In other markets, especially stalwarts like California and newcomers such as Pennsylvania and Ohio, game manufacturers have responded with a slew of new slot machines and table games that offer new spins on age-old games like blackjack and poker. Perhaps the most popular of the bunch: Blackjack Switch, which gives players the option to switch the top cards of two blackjack hands.
Casinos also have upped the ante on amenities. Spas are bigger and better than ever before. Fitness centers rival some of the freshest facilities in New York and Los Angeles. Many now have golf courses. Of course another big attraction with new casinos is food. Many properties offer as many as eight restaurant options in order to reach gamblers with budgets of every size. Bill Ordine, editor of PhillyGambles. Now that the casino industry is on the rebound, where does it go from here?
The short answer: everywhere. Across the country, casino companies and high-tech vendors alike are pushing to legalize gambling to the point where people can play games on mobile devices or desktop computers whenever and wherever they want. The first step took place in August , when the Nevada Gaming Commission granted the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas with an interactive gaming license that likely will allow the casino to run the first legal real-money poker site in U.
Behind closed doors, casino executives say they're "terrified" of the prospect of competing for gamblers' attention all the way into his or her home. On the record, however, many execs have a strategy to fight back and it revolves around personalization through players' card programs. These cards are the physical manifestation of loyalty programs, marketing efforts designed to get players back to the casino and incentivize them when they return. Benefits in these programs are determined by level, which is usually determined by a player's total spend, or expenditures on-site.
Many casinos afford gamblers the opportunity to log on to a web-based profile and select the types of perks they would like to receive once they are eligible. Others, such as MGM Resorts' M life Players Club, run software to analyze player behavior and leverage this data to offer specific perks they think each person might enjoy. Some of the available benefits: free meals, shows, hotel stays and, in some cases, even free play.
In this sense, it seems, the casino industry intends to pull a page from American Express' book; membership in players' clubs will have its privileges. Casinos these days are bold, eccentric and unpredictable: Just when you think you've got a place figured out, you learn something new.
Here's a list of some of our favorite surprises across the commercial gambling industry. Smack in the middle of the Public Square neighborhood in downtown Cleveland, the Horseshoe's claim to fame is the building in which it occupies.
The Art Deco Higbee Building dates to , and was the city's first department store. Sin City's hippest property has two separate free art installations on display at all times. The second, located in a studio on the third floor, displays local and national artists in some cases, performance artists in a more intimate space.
Four golf courses sit within a golf-cart ride of this small but upscale casino on an eponymous resort in the hills of rural Indiana and the hometown of basketball legend Larry Bird. In , the resort added a course designed by legendary golf architect Pete Dye.
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