Inside Gaming Column: Las Vegas Tourism Could be a little Insecure

5 September 2006

New national surveys seem to show Americans' fascination with Las Vegas could be waning. Americans still name the city as a top vacation destination, but they say security at airports will keep them closer to home. The cost of living has them looking for ways to save. Also, gaming may be losing its luster. On the other hand, the same surveys show that those with discretionary money to spend are looking for longer vacations without heading overseas, which might augur well for Las Vegas. The results are mixed, but security hassles seem more and more to be the central issue for travelers.

The simplest solution to traffic clogging the resort corridor would also have the biggest effect, experts say. Still, insiders say it's a "nonstarter." The idea is to turn the Strip into a one-way thoroughfare north. In return, Paradise Road or Swenson Street would become one-way in the other direction. Insiders say the problem is it would simply move congestion from one street to another. But look at Waikiki, where a similar traffic reconfiguration has worked for 15 years, and you might wonder. Operators complain that this move would turn one of the greatest pedestrian experiences in the world into a rush-hour race of traffic, but it's still the only way to significantly alleviate Strip gridlock.

Giving poker a run for its money, the 10-episode first season of the Ultimate Blackjack Tour begins on CBS on Sept. 16. Bringing together 14 of the "most dangerous card players on the planet," the "juiced up" game will lead into the network's college football broadcasts. If any gambling program has had a winning broadcast slot, this is it, marketing gurus say. Participants will include poker greats Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, Johnny Chan, David "Devilfish" Ulliott and Layne Flack, as well as World Blackjack Champion Kenny Einiger and blackjack stars "Hollywood" Dave Stann and Anthony Curtis, all sweating out 30 high-stress hands, with three eliminations and the audience seeing the hole card. At the end, the player with the most chips wins.

Readers say that while the statistical odds of getting a royal flush in "Let It Ride" is 1 in 649,740, as we recently reported, it's not as hard as you'd think to get "dealt royal." One reader was dealt a royal on a 50-play video poker machine. He got 50 simultaneous royal flushes for a $10,000 total jackpot. IGT, which makes the machine, told him this had happened before with a few other players. There are also reports of "dealt royals" on triple-play, five-play and 10-play video poker machines. And yes, there have been royals dealt on single-play video poker machines. Stories like these are what makes video poker the crack cocaine of gambling.

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