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Illinois Gaming Board gets into video gambling

It was just a three-paragraph story on an almost hidden page near the back of a copy of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the larger of two newspapers in the Nevada metropolis. But it certainly hit home and offers some food for thought.

It was just a three-paragraph story on an almost hidden page near the back of a copy of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the larger of two newspapers in the Nevada metropolis.

But it certainly hit home and offers some food for thought.

It revealed that the Illinois Gaming Board had activated video poker machines at 65 bars, restaurants and other locations throughout the state. And officials said there were more than 2,200 other applications for licences from other establishments like fraternal organizations and truck stops.

Here’s the cruncher on this one: video gambling was approved three years ago to help fund a $31-billion construction program to fix Illinois schools, roads and other transportation projects.

Oddly enough, the province of Alberta has video machines in almost every bar one walks into, and one wonders how much of that money goes to Alberta schools, roads and other important projects for the citizens that pay the way?

Nevada is a lot different than what Illinois offers what with its huge casinos and such. But you may wonder how much money is realized from people wanting to get rich quick.

Well, taxable gaming revenue Statewide in August alone was in excess of $895 million which, and this may surprise some, is down three per cent from the year before. In that month alone, more than half of that total was wagered on the famous Las Vegas strip, and that was a drop of just over one per cent or $600,000 and change.

However, the drop in downtown Las Vegas was almost $3 million or a drop of a scary 8.41 per cent. And there has to be concern in places like North Las Vegas and Boulder Strip where drops in August were more than 13 and 17 per cent, respectively.

But let’s just say with those kinds of numbers, all the people of Nevada who rely on the gambling game aren’t having the economic problems that we’ve been being told about for the past few years.

But some have to be worried about the trend.

Another area of interest was the number of visitors and, in August, the city recorded an increase of one per cent to 3,340,826. Of course, a lot of Vegas money is picked up by conventions and, in August, attendance at conventions was up almost 16 per cent from the previous year with 478,522 taking part.

I’ve contended forever that Vegas has been trying to price itself out of its own game and, while they are crying the blues, at times the average daily room rate went up more than five per cent from August 2011 to August 2012. What that means is the average room in Vegas, and there were 150,245 in August, was $102.09 this year compared to $97.11 the year before.

But there is not a quality hotel on the strip where you can get a room for a hundred bucks.

If you’ve read this far you have probably surmised that I recently visited Las Vegas, in part, so my wife Donna Lee can satisfy an annual need to see the lights of what once was the fastest-growing city in the United States. Well, she also gambles a bit, too.

There were a couple of other interesting things that caught my attention and I’d like to pass them along.

Do you, like I, find it strange that in Vegas alone there are a modest eight taxi companies? Yet there are no less than 15 limousine services. The streets are almost clogged with taxis, but if you were to take a block-long walk down the Strip you’d be guaranteed to see at least a dozen limos.

The cost of a cab is $3.30 to start and $2.45 a mile, while a limo goes from $35 to $65 an hour or $89 for one of the stretch variety.

An alternative is a bus that is a reasonable $2 or the famous monorail, which visits 11 hotels at a cost of $5 a trip or $15 bucks for a day pass.

Finally, you might remember all of the publicity around Prince Harry of England when he got caught naked at a party in Vegas not all that long ago. Well, analysts say news coverage of an online campaign and a large advertisement in USA Today reached an estimated 154,000 million people and the value of the publicity is $23 million.

My joke today comes out of a note a buddy sent listing bumper stickers for seniors. The best was: Ladies, if a man says he will fix it, he will. There is no need to remind him every six months about it.

Ron Woodson, on his thoughts about why golf is better than football and baseball wrote: Pro golfers throw things to fans, not at them.