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Best of Rudi Schiffer

Gaming Guru

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Heard it on the river: Casino smoking bans hurt constituents

16 December 2008

Down in the Delta, Rep. JOHN MAYO, D-Clarksdale, works for a district that has 10 casinos in it and for nearly 9 years now he has been for a statewide smoking ban. While it is documented in other states with legal gambling that such a ban has helped cause declining revenues, Mayo says he "not completely oblivious to what (a smoking ban) would do." His quotes appeared in an article in the Commercial Appeal by Phil West. What Mayo is oblivious to is the harm it would cause to his thousands of constituents who depend on the gaming industry for their family livelihoods. But there is a kinder side to Rep. Mayo. "I'm all for clean water and fresh air."

The smoking ban issue and a casino bed tax are now facing the industry in Mississippi but both issues are not expected to get very far when the Legislature convenes in Jackson next month as they would harm an industry that is already struggling in a worsening economy. Here's a guy you can vote for. Rep. DAVID NORDQUIST, D-Cleveland..."It's not so much what we can do for the industry, but what we can do to keep things from happening to the industry." Right on rep. And another friend of gaming, BOBBY MOAK, D-Bogue-Chitta, recently told a casino- supportive audience in Tunica, "You are one the of the largest producers of taxes to the state and local governments. We are looking at ways to help you maintain your business and expand your business." Both reps get my coveted ATTABOY AWARDS.

FREDDY FRICK is a veteran with Las Vegas experience who also know what casinos need and he is not bashful in letting you know. Now Freddy is not a politician, altho he would make an excellent one if he chose to run, but he continually lobbies for GOLD STRIKE CASINO RESORT. When I visited with him recently to play in a blackjack tournament there, he took it on himself to show me the wonders of what millions on millions of dollars have accomplished in a major renovation and remodeling of this wonderful property. From the lobby to visit several new suites, he stopped and talked with guests, picked up trash and never stopped talking about the property. You would think he was the owner and not the executive casino host.

After dragging me through room after room, the convention center, the Atrium Cafe and Courtyard Buffet, not to mention the lobby and the spiffed up high limit room, he took me to the RED DOOR. First I heard of it. But Freddy is instinctively a PR guy as well and knows the power of media relations and the ensuing20publicity. The Red Door is something of a secret but once you get behind the door, you will know immediately that it's a night club. Tucked away behind the large bar reception area on the second floor as you get off the escalator, the area has been transformed into a night haunt complete with a stage for disc jockeys or musicians and a dance floor. Off to the side are two platforms for scantily clad dancers. It's become a word-of-mouth hot spot and is open Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. until...

One other thing worth noting at Gold Strike. I never ran into an unfriendly dealer, slot gal or just employees walking by who never failed to greet me. I kept looking for a grouch but never met one, GM GEORGE GOLDHOFF has the place hitting on all cylinders. That's good news for some 120 guests arriving at Tunica airport every other day on a Gold Strike chartered 727.

Across the Mississippi River in West Memphis there is another secret, sort of. Inside the spacious SOUTHLAND GAMING & RACING facility is the cozy yet sublime BOURBON STREET STEAKHOUSE GRILL, the abode of a new cook, SHANE "BUC" LABHART, a Certified Chef de Cuisine. He put his unique stamp on the menu and while steaks rule, the room backs up its Bourbon Street name with an array of delicious Caj un style entrees and starters. I was exposed to its delights by another executive who understands the power of positive PR, TROY KEEPING. We dined with his wife MARY ANN and Marketing Manager BOBBI JONES. Look for a full review on Bourbon Street in the next issue of JACKPOT MAGAZINE. Another surprise came when Troy told us that revenues at the facility were up strong. Wow. That was the first good news in the casino industry down south in a long time. We also toured the new WINNER'S EDGE" parimutuel racing book room and the place was jumping with private carrels packed with horse and dog players. With the OAKLAWN racing meet to open Jan. 16 in HOT SPRINGS, AR., now is the time to reserve your seat for the 60 day meet. Why drive three hours when you can have a front row seat and service, not to mention your own private betting window at Southland.

How to find the advertised 98% payback slot machine? HOLLYWOOD has a carousel just outside the entry to it high limit slot room with a sign that boldly states "98% Payback." If you have been around slot floors for some time, like this degenerate gambler, you know that does not mean all the machines in that circle are paying that amount or pay it back every time you sit down. It usually means only one of the units are set that high but you could play it for a long time before it starts to hit that level. It thus poses a cha llenge. Could I find the magic machine of my dreams. I pulled a Ben from my shrinking wallet and set forth.

Most of the machines in this group are DOUBLE DIAMONDS, my favorite $5 slots. I hit the first machine with limited results and moved on to its neighbor adding slowly, very slowly to my remaining stash. The going was slow, where was the fabled land of 98 percenters? Down to my last Ben Franklin, a slot just around corner sort of winked at me like a street lady offering her hidden wares for a price. I went into my one-coin-at-a-time mode to see if this lady would be more generous to me. The credit indicators on the front panel kept rising and I moved into phase two, one coin, two coins every other hit. My winnings kept rising slowly but surely. Time for my bold to always bet two coins since I now had enough funds to not only sustain this attack mode but with a chance of a hitting a big one if this was the real 98 percenter. It was. With a max bet up came a red seven paired with two beautiful double diamond symbols. On cue and very quickly, two you ladies showed up with a handful of cash for the taxed pay-off and EXEC HOST JOE STRONSKI was there with some fine imported Macanudos to make the celebration complete. Olay. I had found my own personal ATM machine but I was not prone to further test my approach and left quickly. Don't call me for the machine serial number. Go find it on your own.

CYNTHIS BOLT, known in Tunica poker circles, has joined the staff at HARLOW'S CASINO in Greenville where she will be the shift manager. Poker Room MANAGER RICHARD WOOD is beefing up the staff and increasing the hours of the room as it grows in popularity. Bolt, who once worked the WPT Circuit, is from Tunica. The busy 7 table room is now open from 4 pm Monday-Thursday and from 2 pm on Fri-Sat. Also new to Harlow's Hotel is D. BRITT DUNAWAY who returns to his home town as sales and catering manager. Meanwhile in the casino buffet, EXECUTIVE CHEF MOULAY ELABDELLAOUI, the former cook to KING HASSAN of Morocco, has put a steak breakfast on line for late nighters to enjoy from midnight to 10 am on Fridays and Saturdays. GM DOM MEZZETTA told us on a recent visit that while business was good at the property, he expects that once the new bridge over the Mississippi is open business will increase as the casino will be a direct and shorter drive from the LITTLE ROCK market on I-65. Harlow's is strategically located between the bridges on the banks of the river.

CHEECH and CHONG coming to HORSESHOE Feb. 7. That's what the billboard stated and what a rush of memories it brought back from their great movies when weed was viewed with a lot more levity that in today's drug cursed society. Remember "Up In Smoke?" This hilarious successful comedy grossed $100 million in 1978. The boys and their LIGHT UP AMERICA TOUR will be at BLUESVILLE for a 9 pm show on the 7th . Better get your ducats fast before they are comped out. Try Ticket master now at 901-525-1515.

The TUNICA RIVER PARK is offering another form of entertainment in the form of a ride down the Mississippi River through TOM SAWYER'S eyes. The new exhibit at the Park adjacent to the FITZ CASINO, runs through April 1. It features work of the DESOTO CAMERA CLUB depicting the beauty of life, architecture and views on the river. The lobby exhibit is free.

HOLLYWOOD CASINO 's 700 plus cast members recently presented nine area community organizations with a share of over $10,000. In these tough times, that amount from employees is especially meaningful. Atlanta's TITAN AGENCY, a full service ad and marketing firm, that represents PEARL RIVER RESORTS with some memorable print ads in the region, looks to do more of the same and has brought on board a highly regarded creative mind in MICHAEL EWING as its chief creative officer. Ewing has extensive casino ad experience having created campaigns for Horseshoe casinos and Grand Casino, Billow. It's no secret that MIKO BEASLEY DENSON and EXCUTIVE VP/ COO DALE HIPSH are seeking to mak e the luxurious resort THE place in the southeast and Ewing is a key part of that strategy.

FROM THE QUOTEABLE GAMBLER, The Lyons Press

When I told Canada Bill the game he was playing was crooked, he said, "I know it is is, but it's the only game in town."

GEORGE DEVOL, Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi (1892)

LAISSEZ BON TEMPS ROULER!

Rudi Schiffer

Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com
Rudi Schiffer
Rudi Schiffer is a long time columnist and contributing writer for Jackpot Magazine, the South’s leading gaming publication, and for casinocitytimes.com, the world’s leading casino industry internet news distributor. He is also owner and co-host of the 20-year-old Goodtimes Radio Show, now simulcast on Fridays from 3-6 PM Central Time from Country Classic 1180 AM, Memphis networked with KMIS 1050 AM, and 103.9 KGLU FM from Kennet, MO covering parts of Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi. His radio show is also archived at audiovegas.com. A Boston University Journalism graduate, he resides in Memphis, TN. Known as the "Voice of Tunica" for his support the gaming jurisdiction for two decades, he was also recently named to Memphis Business Quarterly Magazine’s 3rd annual “The Power Players, Who’s Who” of Memphis.He is also a contributing writer for Southern Gaming & Entertainment and Mississippi Gaming.

Rudi Schiffer Websites:

www.AudioVegas.com