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Best of Mark Pilarski

Gaming Guru

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With the wise guys gone, Wall Street rolled in

22 September 2000

Dear Mark,
Is it true that the reason Caesars treats the customer so well is because it is one of the last casinos still owned by the Mafia? Just curious because I love that place, even when I lose. Chris K.

Sorry, Chris, "the Family" doesn't own Caesars, but you can own a piece of the joint, even without Italian lineage. It trades on the NYSE as ITT. The present ITT Corp. is three publicly traded entities, which brings their hotel/leisure, gaming and entertainment business together under the name ITT Corp. ITT Corp's gaming operations consist principally of Caesar's World, ITT Sheraton's Desert Inn Resort and Casino in Las Vegas and ITT Sheraton Casino in Tunica, Mississippi.

In the past, Chris, the underworld did have involvement with certain casino operations in Las Vegas. Today, because of strong state gaming regulations and the active participation of public corporations, the last remnants of direct organized crime in the gaming industry are long gone.

Dear Mark,
Though the amount was not substantial (25¢), I believe a roulette dealer intentionally took my chip off the winning number.
Then what started out as a disagreement escalated into a huge argument with both the dealer and the pit boss. To cool me down the pit boss agreed to call the eye-in-the-sky. He came back and said the dealer was not in error and I did not have any money on the winning number. Because I've been playing that same number for over 20 years, I still believe I was right and demanded to see the film. I was refused.
I would first like to know what disciplinary action should be taken against a dealer if I was correct? Also, don't I have a right, on demand, to view the video tape? Jack M.

As you noted in your question that the amount was insignificant, here's how it should have been handled. Casino security should bury the dealer in a shallow grave and then casino management fire him for "No Call, No Show."

Come on, Jack, we're talking an $8.75 payout here. Plus, dealers can, and do, make mistakes. I've made plenty, once involving a $7,000 overpayment. Aided by surveillance film, the casino got its money back and I received a non-paid week on the streets to think about it. I took advantage of the imposed mini-vacation by spring skiing and taking part in late night revelry for seven days.

But your question deserves a sober answer. You do have the following option in a casino controversy. Here in Nevada, if you are dissatisfied with a decision made by casino management, you may appeal to the Enforcement Division of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Enforcement agents will review the video tape, if it exists, and inform the casino and the player of their decision.

There is a reason, Jack, why most casinos are averse to showing patrons video tape of any casino activity. Cheaters have been known to make false claims over small amounts of money just to dispute a payoff and then demand a viewing of the film. The charlatan is really trying to observe the kind of surveillance coverage that the casino has on a particular game.

Dear Mark,
Do casinos have shills at the dollar machines? Andy A.

A shill, or game starter, is an individual employed by the casino to induce gambling on table games, not slots, that are being underplayed. The only place you would find a shill today is in high-limit gaming pits.

Recent Articles
Best of Mark Pilarski
Mark Pilarski

As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.
Mark Pilarski
As a recognized authority on casino gambling, Mark Pilarski survived 18 years in the casino trenches, working for seven different casinos. Mark now writes a nationally syndicated gambling column, is a university lecturer, author, reviewer and contributing editor for numerous gaming periodicals, and is the creator of the best-selling, award-winning audiocassette series on casino gambling, Hooked on Winning.