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Best of Alan Krigman

Gaming Guru

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Casinos Do Patrons a Disservice by Tolerating Bad Behavior

11 October 1999

Long before the advent of ancient prehistory, I had a life that had nothing to do with casinos. It occasionally saw me dining at a haute coiffure restaurant. On an expense account, of course.

Beside the snobby eats and drinks, what I liked best about these elite establishments was that they were adult domains. Not only did patrons leave their children at home, the clientele behaved generally grown-up. These factors contributed to an elevating ambiance where we emotionally and intellectually mature cognoscenti felt even better than usual about ourselves. True, there were intimidations like supercilious sommeliers, food with foreign names, funny-size forks, and more than a modicum of pretentiousness. But on the whole, the experience was uplifting.

Casinos are supposed to be adult domains, too. For me and many others, this adds to the appeal. So it's annoying if thoughtless patrons fail to recognize the standards of decorum entailed. And worse, when the bosses can't or won't deal with failures to do so in a way that balances consideration of other guests against a degree of the freewheeling abandon some folks think is part and parcel of gambling with what they consider big bucks.

Casinos offer ordinary folks the extraordinary. Not just the fantasy of rich rewards promising drastic changes in lifestyle, which only the very few will realize. But the reality of the surreal which anyone gets just by passing through the portals. If some solid citizens can't or won't take full advantage of the opportunity, that's their right. And the casinos have incentive to lead the hoi polloi to water, but no obligation to make them drink. My gripe involves oafish individuals who interfere with others' pleasure, and casinos who let them get away with it.

Unruly children in lobbies and concourses are bad enough. Here's an even more extreme example. I like the casinos' gourmet Sunday brunches. At $30 or so a shot, if you don't have a comp, these should be and normally are elegant affairs. Too few tables away, the other week, were a couple with two youngsters. The kids were not only noisy, but were chasing each other around the room and fingering food on the buffet table. One of them dropped a loaded platter on the floor. The parents totally ignored the disruption their darlings were causing. I clearly wasn't the only one whose dining delight was degraded by it all. Nothing similar would have happened at a comparable non-casino restaurant. These people probably wouldn't have brought their kids to such a place. If they did, they would undoubtedly had them under control. And management certainly wouldn't have tolerated the annoyance to other customers or the extra burdens placed on the staff.

I'll give you another illustration. I was playing blackjack a month ago in the high-limit pit at a different casino. A baccarat game started up in the same pit, at which the participants were screaming so loudly and continuously that three of us at my table eventually got up and left. An occasional burst of hooting and hollering is one thing. This was something else. Last week I returned. The same group was there, pulling the same routine. I wouldn't play, but told the pit boss that the casino's tolerating this infantile behavior lost them my action. He commiserated, adding that the dealers and floor people were also annoyed. But, said management wouldn't let him try to subdue the ruckus himself, or call some hosts to calm things down. The house didn't want to risk losing the frequent play of these high rollers.

Situations like these stick in the mind. Fortunately, they're the exceptions, not the rule. When they occur, though, there's no excuse for letting them persist. The bard of the betting biz, Sumner A Ingmark, berated the bosses for ignoring the precept:

With subtle methods of persuasion,
Most people rise to an occasion
Alan Krigman

Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.
Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman was a weekly syndicated newspaper gaming columnist and Editor & Publisher of Winning Ways, a monthly newsletter for casino aficionados. His columns focused on gambling probability and statistics. He passed away in October, 2013.