It is hard to say whether Ontario premier Doug Ford is encouraging gambling in Ontario or simply doesn’t care. Either way, he is going about it all wrong. After the cautious steps during the Wynne years, the number of casinos and the way they are being run today is likely to lead to growing losses and ultimately bankruptcies.
We used to think of casinos as being mainly a destination vacation such as Las Vegas, the Bahamas, Atlantic City, Niagara Falls. These were weekend or short-stay places to visit where, once you had enough gambling, offered a variety of entertainments and places to dine.
At one time, Las Vegas, with its mystique of Mafia origins was the frequent destination for people the casinos called “whales.” These were the high rollers who brought large amounts for their gambling and received free rooms, meals and other VIP treatment. While I have seen many foolish gamblers making bets of thousands of dollars in casinos, the average revenue in Ontario is more likely less than $500 per visit. And that is best explained in that many Ontario residents are not smart gamblers.
You really wish you could say to a person, obviously chasing their losses, that they should just accept their losses and go home. And telling someone that those side bets such as ‘Perfect Pairs’ in Blackjack is a rip-off is a no-no. You have to face the reality is that everyone thinks they understand the game they playing, will make their own foolish bets and will lie about their losses.
But what is really destroying the casinos is the cost of wages for staff. It is driving the current trend towards the more controlled Internet casinos, the sports books and the trend away from dealers for the games. The first victim in this trend has been the disappearance of live craps games. One of the things that the wife and I used to love about Las Vegas was the action at the craps tables. It is the siren call above and over all the bells and whistles of the slot machines.
We are now into the age of the I-Tables. They will spell the end of casinos. Blackjack, poker and table games are a social occasion. It is an interaction that is even more precious after the years of pandemic. We need it. Why should we be interested in challenging machines?
Copyright 2022 © Peter Lowry
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