From the mailbag

A mystery illness has debilitated me off and on (more “on” than “off,” sadly) for the past seven days. Fortunately, lively reader debate in the “Comments” threads have kept things ticking over nicely in my absence. Also, I sometimes get reports from the field like what follows. It’s particularly valuable to somebody like myself, who lives in Las Vegas and becomes inured to incremental changes. To wit …

“• Slot machines are disappearing from casinos. I don’t know whether they are trying to ‘uncluter’ the layout or whether the slot companies have pulled them back from lack of use, but the [Las Vegas] Hilton has, in my guess, about 1/3 fewer machines—or more. A large part of the ‘Space Quest’ casino is now a sitting area for the coffee bar, a dice pit has replaced a big slot area on the main floor, and about 1/3 of the machines have been pulled from the sports book. Same thing on a smaller scale at Planet Hollywood—there used to be a slot area beside the Earl of Sandwich—that section is now just empty. At the Riviera, a large section near the new British pub that used to have rows of machines now has a few pods of three machines each.

Planet Ho’s integration of it’s A-list with Total Rewards is not as smooth as they have led people to believe. Accounts that they promised to merge were not, and they can’t merge them until you have no activity on either account for a period of days.

• The Hilton program that pays $10 if you don’t want your room serviced is great for single guys who just use their room to sleep. The $10 credit is good for any food or beverage in the hotel. Let’s see—fresh shampoo or $10—I’ll take the cash!

• Construction sounds and a few vehicles parked on the street near Fontainebleau.” [Editor’s note: Carl Icahn‘s peeps *did* pull construction permits there recently.]

Sigma Derby redux. My story on oddball casino games is now in the hands of Desert Companion Editor Andrew Kiraly. My thanks to the Queen of Comps, Jean Scott, and to readers B.K., Jeff in OKC and Kerr Mudgeon, who went above and beyond the call of duty on this one. I couldn’t locate any “tilt-up” games at Slots A Fun (maybe I didn’t ask the right questions), Flush Attack never seems to have made it out of the Laughlin market and space considerations precluded getting into Elvis reel-spinning slots. Ditto a pair of Goldeneye-themed machines at MGM Resorts International‘s Slots A Fun. These are anachronisms from the Stone Age of theming and bonus rounds: just some Joe Average reel-spinners with a James Bond logo slapped in the upper-left-hand corner.

Oh, and about Sigma Derby — play it while yet ye may.

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