Last night Ronnie and I went down to Tacoma to see Cheap Trick at the Emerald Queen Casino. It was our first date night in the last couple of years.
It was also quite an eye opener.
For starters, Cheap Trick rocked. These guys are in their late 50′s — but they sure don’t look it. They played for about 90 minutes, hitting all their best songs along the way. The highlight of the night came when Pearl Jam’s Mike McReady joined them onstage for “Surrender” (you know, “Mama’s all right, Daddy’s all right, they just seem a little weird …”). We left about half way through the third encore song — and missed all the traffic.
The eye-opening part came when we walked through the casino to get to the concert site. I hadn’t set foot in a casino since the late 1990′s, and this walk was a reminder why. For starters, smoking is allowed. My jacket still stinks. There were slot machines as far as the eye could see. The place was packed — on a Sunday night — and most of these folks didn’t look like they had much spare money to lose. And unlike Betcha.com, which effectively came with an “I want my money back” button in the event a bettor lost, these machines were of the “you lose, you lose” variety. Go figure. If the Washington state legislature is so concerned about the disasterous effect that gambling has on families, as Rep. Steve Conway told me last month (read) — well, allowing a place like this to exist is sure a funny way of showing it. As badly as I feel about my Ebay golf shirt addiction (1I2), at least I have something to show for it at the end of the day. These folks have empty pockets.
As Ronnie and I sat at dinner — basically food court food surrounded by one-armed bandits — I thought about the Washington State Gambling Commission’s primary argument for changing the law to cover Betcha.com. If the law isn’t changed now, they insist, honor-based casinos will pop up everywhere, thereby threatening the well-being of every man, woman, and child in the Evergreen State.
How such a place would work is beyond me.
Does the WSGC really think that some entrepreneur is going to open a casino that would tell its customers “hey, if you pull three cherries the machine may not pay out.” Good luck getting customers — they can just drive down the road to casino that offers an identical experience, but where the slots are guaranteed to pay.
Does the WSGC really envision a world where casino owners would let their customers come back the next day and say “I had a rough night here last night, I’d like my money back”? Good luck with those financial projections.
Does the WSGC really believe that Betcha.com’s existence would have kept a single person out of state-licensed casinos, as Senator Margarita Prentice insisted it would last year? I cannot imagine.
As silly as the WSGC’s arguments are, it appears only a matter of time before the it gets the law amended to cover Betcha.com. They’ll do so by trumpeting the same parade of horribles they’ve been predicting for the last year plus — none of which have or ever will come to fruition. And they’ll do so by arguing that Washington families will be wiped out if Dad is allowed to make a bet that the rules allow him to not pay.
Talk about a cheap trick.