Saturday, March 28, 2009

Trump Plaza gets rid of e-poker machines

This is an article that appeared in The Press of Atlantic City today.

They were fast, mistake-proof and didn't need to be tipped. But they had no personality. So now they're gone.

Atlantic City's experiment with electronic poker tables proved to be a resounding failure because it seems humans prefer other humans when it comes to dealing the cards.

"I'd rather have a human dealer. It's a friendlier atmosphere," Ira Cohen, a poker player from Brooklyn, N.Y., said Thursday at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino.

Trump Plaza has removed Atlantic City's only batch of automated poker tables after trying them out for a few months in hopes that they would attract a younger generation of gamblers.

The machines never came close to generating the revenue that Trump executives had anticipated. The goal was $1.8 million in annual revenue, but the best month was only $45,000, according to Jim Rigot, Trump Plaza's general manager.

"For us, that was pretty discouraging, to say the least," he said.

Trump Plaza introduced 14 of the PokerTek Inc. machines last June as the centerpiece of a refurbished gambling area in the casino's East Tower. A dozen tables featured seating for as many as 10 players, while the other two were two-seaters for head-to-head competition.

Electronic poker tables mimic the live games -- except that they don't have betting chips or humans dealing the cards.

Although the machines were faster than human dealers and didn't make mistakes, the new technology just couldn't replace the old-fashioned experience of live poker, Rigot acknowledged.

"Poker players like to play with chips," he said. "They like to have real cards in their hands if given the chance."

When the machines made their debut, Atlantic City dealers represented by the United Auto Workers union feared they were the start of a broader trend of electronic gambling that could eventually cost casino employees their tip-dependent jobs. The dealers declined to comment this week about Trump Plaza removing the PokerTek tables.

Rigot maintained it was never the casino's intention to replace human dealers with machines. He said electronic gambling was simply another attraction to complement the live poker tables and generate more business during the recession.

"We were adding to our product to bring more people to Trump Plaza. We were looking to help the dealers out," Rigot said.

The electronic games automatically shuffle and deal video-style cards that appear on a large display screen in the middle of the table. Each player has a smaller display screen in front of them equipped with touch controls to place their bets, call or fold. Winners are automatically identified after each hand.

Rigot said electronic gambling is more popular in casino markets that don't have live table games. At Pennsylvania's slot parlors, for instance, electronic blackjack games are considered a form of slot gambling and represent a major attraction.

While Atlantic City may not be ready yet for electronic poker, there is a chance it will make a comeback when the economy recovers and people are more willing to spend their money on different types of gambling, Rigot predicted.

"It's not to say that we may not resurrect it in the future," he said.

Cohen, the poker player at Trump Plaza, said he has no interest in electronic gambling. He urged Trump Plaza to open a live poker room now that the automated tables are gone.

"I don't play them. I have mixed feelings about the machines," Cohen said. "I would rather have people."

For now, Trump Plaza has closed most of the East Tower's gaming space, including the area where the electronic poker tables once dominated. A black curtain has been drawn across the entrance, with a sign attached saying, "Please pardon our appearance while we make changes to serve you better."

Rigot said the East Tower's 14,000 square feet of casino space will be transformed into a multifunctional room for special events, gaming tournaments and perhaps even a nightclub on weekends.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Our indulgence worth the wait?

This from The Press of Atlantic City.

12:39 p.m. Update - ATLANTIC CITY — After flirting with Atlantic City for more than two years, Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. said today that its proposed casino project is all but dead and it now wants to sell the oceanfront land.
“One day, hopefully, someone shows up and gives us a good price,” Dan Lee, Pinnacle’s chairman and chief executive officer, said of the property during a conference call with analysts.
Pinnacle imploded the old Sands Casino Hotel in fall 2006 to create space for a proposed $1.5 billion, Las Vegas-style casino that was supposed to be among a new generation of Atlantic City megaresorts. However, Pinnacle put the project on hold months ago because of the recession and global credit crisis.
Lee’s comments today all but dashed any hope that Pinnacle would resurrect the project when the economy recovers and the frozen credit markets finally thaw out.
“Obviously, with 20-20 hindsight, I wish we didn’t buy the land in Atlantic City,” he said.


Wow. So, Pinnacle gets rid of the Sands and all the people it employed just to waste the space that is it's now occupying. It would be amazing if companies like this were able to face consequences for doing this to the people who worked there, but in the end there are only going to be angry people, still looking for work while Pinnacle continues to ruin lives.

Remind me never to support this company in any sense.

Here are the casinos Pinnacle owns:
Lumiere Place Casino and Hotels in St. Louis
L'Auberge du Lac Casino Resort in Lake Charles, Louisiana
Belterra Casino Resort and Spa in Indiana
Boomtown Casino in New Orleans
Boomtown Casino in Reno
Boomtown Casino in Shreveport, La.
Casino Magic Properties in Argentina

That is also a list of casinos I will never visit in my lifetime.

Thanks for nothing Pinnacle. Really, thanks a lot. You take thousands of jobs away and then leave when the going gets tough. That's the exact type of company people want to support.
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