Tuesday, December 31, 2002

The slicing dicing casinomatic ...

I love infomercials.

Most people, I've convinced myself, actually love infomercials.

There's just something about the glitz, the glitter, the ability to remove tar, gum and grease from any surface without scrubbing.

"Have you ever tried to get spaghetti sauce off your car upholstery? IT'S SO HARD!!! Well now with saucomatic, you can remove any tomato-based product quick as a flash."

At some point while you're watching, you come to your senses and realize that either the product won't work at all or that it may not be quite as great as its marketing experts have claimed.

Most of us, at least, come to that realization.

Some of us take that step and dial the 800 number to "charge by phone" hoping to be one of the first 1,000 callers so that we might qualify for the extra jar for only a penny.

Sunday, I was one of the first 1,000 callers when I trekked my behind across

Niagara County to visit "beautiful" downtown Niagara Falls and her new casino.

The media check in for the casino's play night was scheduled to take place from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. with the doors opening to the general public at 6. I got there at a couple minutes after 5 o'clock and was met with a couple hundred people waiting in the casino lobby to get in.

This was after the parking. Can I just say $8!?! Sorry, I'll move on.

So I move to the head of the line to ask someone from the casino where I should check in. I had to preregister and I knew I needed to pick up a special press pass.

The first three people I asked didn't know and I started to get worried.
"Do these people know what's going on," I thought to myself.

Then the fourth person told me where to go — politely, I might add — and the experience began.

I checked in and was told the rules. I could talk to members of the public and people from the marketing group, but I couldn't quote the marketing people and I could go anywhere except employee area and whah whah whah (think Peanuts).
Wow!

Alright, I'm off. Gaming floor, here I come.

I didn't bring a note pad since I didn't plan to interview anyone.

No offense to our faithful readers, but I wasn't interested in your opinion on

Sunday. I wanted to know what I thought.

I bumped into some colleagues of mine.

Dennis Stierer (US&J photographer), Hi. How are ya?

Mark Scheer (Niagara Gazette reporter), nice to see you.

Tom Prohaska (he works for the enemy), fancy running into you here.

Tom actually said to me, "I thought they had security at this place. How'd you get in?"

He's a nice guy, let me tell you.

And mainly, I walked around.

Standard operating procedure is to circle the grounds twice to get a feel for things and then move in to take a closer inspection.

So I circled then moved in.

First game - Baccarat.

It goes something like this: Flip flip. Flip flip. "You lose."

Flip flip. Flip flip. "You win."

At the end of the baccarat session, I was ahead.

See, you start with $1,000 and have four hours to blow it.

After baccarat, I had about $1,200.

Next stop, craps.

I met a really nice couple from West Seneca who came to the falls just so they could see the casino.

I never caught their names, but the male of the pair gave me some good advice on playing craps and I ended up winning another couple hundred dollars.

Okay, I'd been there for about 90 minutes now and I was way ahead. I had only two and a half hours to lose $1,400.

Roulette, baby.

It took me a while to get in and when I did, I didn't like it — and I didn't lose my money quickly enough.

In the end, I literally handed my money back to the casino folks and left.

Next time I go, I'll donate $20, just like always.

And I hope I run into people like the folks from West Seneca and the guy who had lived in Syracuse before moving to Niagara Falls to work for the casino.

Just like the saucomatic, the casino will not be a cure all, but I'm guessing that it will reduce the blemishes of aging left behind by years of neglect.