Just when it seemed hope was lost … The D is reintroducing Sigma Derby to Downtown. In one fell swoop of utter brilliance, owner Derek Stevens has staked a prohibitive claim to Gaming Executive of the Year. To be completely honest, slot machines bore me. But I’ve never seen an electronic game — anywhere! — that generated as much social interaction and value for the dollar as Sigma Derby. That must be why most casinos hate it so and MGM Grand kinda, sorta tolerates it. Players, however, love it madly and an LVA staffer tells me it’s one of the top “Question of the Day” queries of all time. The Sigma Derby machine is holding a meet-and-greet for local media this afternoon. Normally, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Stevens has put Sigma Derby in The D’s upper-floor “Vintage Casino,” home to coin-in slots and handle-pull Wheel of Fortune. It’s not a new Sigma Derby machine, mind you, but one “that has been refurbished to its original glory, including the signature canopy.” Your move, MGM. Perhaps it’s time to bring back Luxor’s camel-race game.
I don’t know if Stevens has succumbed to passionate lobbying by Jeff_in_OKC but sometimes going forward means taking a step back and that’s what The D has done. It’s also gone ’round-the-clock at its popular — and insanely affordable — Vue Bar, which previous management kept on a very short leash.
Scottish verdict. The Baltimore Post-Examiner is passionately ambivalent over whether Revel or Cordish Gaming’s new Maryland Live! offers the better value. It’s somewhat of an apples/oranges comparison. One is a $2.4 billion megaresort, the other a slot parlor that cost 1/5 as much to build. Revel is described as “simply massive … outshines the nicest Atlantic City has to offer, the Borgata.” However, the pool deck was seeing a lot more action than the casino floor. Revel still hasn’t finished its nightclub (squandering precious summer months) and the Post-Examiner’s crew of players skipped the high-end restaurants in favor of a taco truck, another ill omen.
Unlike Revel, players can’t get free drinks at Maryland Live! (Boo!) This, however, does not seem to be impairing business, which is described as gangbusters. The property itself is lauded as “as nice, if not nicer, than most Atlantic City casinos.” (Some will deem that a backhanded compliment.) Reporter Andrew Cannarsa, in the end, gives the nod to Revel, by virtue of its having real table games. However, should the Maryland Lege reverse itself on that matter, Cannarsa indicates his preference will tilt toward the Cordish casino and by a considerable margin.
Woe at the shore. What happens if you don’t turn on the automatic shuffler at the mini-baccarat table, as dealers at Trump Taj Mahal recently neglected to do? Your clock gets cleaned to the tune of $400,000, for starters. Then the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement levies a $91,236 fine on your ass. The initial goof took place in the early afternoon, last Dec. 10, and nobody noticed anything amiss. Even after at least 25 minutes’ review of the “eye in the sky” footage, nobody was able to spot the anomaly. The only thing that ended the Taj’s losing streak was that the shoe ran out of cards. Nine employees, including three dealers and a pit boss, were sacked but the vice president of casino operations — who is nominally responsible for this bunch of bunglers — kept his job. (Of course.) In addition to the table losses and fines, this calamity cost the Taj an additional $2 million for a digital-recording system. What was it using before? VHS? Betamax? Kinescopes?
Maybe Atlantic City needs to start carding players, no pun intended. Bally’s Atlantic City and Borgata were fined for having underage and self-excluded players on their casino floors. Bally’s also tried to pull a Columbia Sussex, fielding a security staff that was below the state-mandated minimum … an action that left Caesars Entertainment $70,000 lighter in the wallet. Lastly, the apparent lack of a post-Dennis Gomes succession plan at Resorts Atlantic City has an explanation: The casino is shopping around for an outside management firm. (What this means for the future of Gomes’ business plan, I dare not speculate.) Regulators, showing their impatience, gave Resorts an Aug. 24 deadline to have a new man in the captain’s chair.