I couldn’t miss the irony that it was in this month, February (2000), one of the biggest upsets in the Scottish Cup football competition occurred when Inverness Caledonian Thistle beat Glasgow’s revered Celtic FC resulting in the newspaper headline “Super Caley Go Ballistic Celtic Are Atrocious”. In fact this header appeared in The Sun and was subsequently rated one of the six all time greatest sports headlines by The Guardian, a competing publication.
Even though supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, from the film Mary Poppins, is actually a nonsense word used by children to express approval or delight, it has entered the English-speaking lexicon to express exuberance.
That’s really what gambling in Arizona and elsewhere is all about since there are simply too many hands in the cookie jar to be a viable way to earn an income. So what’s so great about gaming in Arizona?
Same Game: In bygone days you really did have to go to Nevada, preferably Las Vegas, to get the games with the best odds. In fact, I remember when Arizona casinos had pull tabs in bingo parlors and patrons played in a tent structure. As time moved on, Arizona casinos became licensed to have devices that looked like slot machines, but in reality were a form of electronic pull tabs or scratch tickets housed in a metal device. Those times are in the distant past. Next the manufacturers of the same mechanisms sold to Nevada casinos made their debut on the floor of local casinos. Finally, the pay schedules and ER chips within machines on Las Vegas Boulevard can also be found right here in the Arizona desert. There are still a few remaining hurdles, but the gap is definitely closing. For example, no place on earth can replicate iconic Downtown Vegas with its ever present taste and flavor of the mobster days in the nineteen forties. Nostalgia for mafia-run casinos still exists and some find the thugs more honorable than today’s corporate decision-makers. Also, there are a few good plays in off-the-beaten-path Vegas casinos that have yet to be matched in Arizona.
Overall, however, you will find the same VP, slot and table games, occasionally better ones, without hopping on a plane or driving the distance. In fact, most European and South American casinos can’t even begin to compare with what we have in our own backyard.
“Unbirthdays”: There’s no denying that Vegas is the renowned party capital of the world and the place to be on New Year’s Eve and your birthday. However, the other 363 days of the year (like the 364 “Unbirthdays” in “Alice in Wonderland”) can be well-celebrated closer to home.
I’m referring to the myriad promotional events that are calling you off the couch and into the closest gambling den. You can win extravagant prizes like a new car or just gift certificates and, not to be shunned, hard cash. The activities that precede these possibilities can be games or just the luck of the draw. Local marketing staffs are extremely creative in both the give-away events and the potential rewards, like balloons, lavish displays, comedic competitions (like trying to grab flying cash while in an enclosed space) and even staff costumes make it feel like a real celebratory occasion. Best of all they are free and usually based on your play, meaning there’s more equity for frequent players.
Patrons with the highest level card may be invited to special dinners, given free concert tickets, comped meals or anything else to incentivize their biggest gamblers. (I know they all like to call you their “best players”, but that’s a euphemism here and elsewhere.)
Valentines: Arizona is sometimes called the “Valentine” state because it gained statehood on February 14, 1912. In keeping with the tradition, there are plenty of Valentines available at your favorite Arizona casino.
Champagne and Spas: It’s not just Vegas and Atlantic City that have nightclubs and top entertainment for both players and non-gamblers. Even if you’re not into taking a chance with your cash, you can still enjoy top entertainment and fine dining at a nearby casino. Your meal won’t be free or even discounted but the price will be fair (often less than commercial venues with A-list talent) and the entertainment glitzy enough to make Valentine’s Day feel special.
Pleasure Domes: Reflecting back several years you used to find posh gambling resorts only in Vegas and maybe a few exotic spots outside of our borders, but that’s no longer the case. In fact if you’re local and want to have a mini-vacation you may get either free or discounted rooms based on your play. Just like with fine dining options, you will probably have to pay the full amount if you’re a non-gambler, but the price will be fair and the atmosphere a cut above many similarly priced hotel options.
Final Thoughts: So, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
Staying at a local spot is for the most precocious,
Especially for those of us who also are loquacious,
Um diddle diddle um diddle ay – Um diddle diddle um diddle ay”
Happy Valentine’s Day!