From Las Vegas, Nevada
Urban Land Institute
NOTE: There is nothing of import in this edition of Mullings. Think of it as a mini-micro-nano Travelogue.
I am not a gigantic fan of Las Vegas. I speak here twice a year or so and am perfectly happy to get in as close to the event as possible and leave as quickly afterward as possible.
I am not morally opposed to gambling, but I don't get why people would put their money into an endeavor in which they are pretty much guaranteed to come out on the short end.
In fact, casinos in Las Vegas have the right to toss you out if you win too much; but apparently you can stay as long as you want if you are losing.
Just prior to the 2004 election, I was involved in a four-person panel (two Republicans and two Democrats) at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida which is owned by the Seminole Indians.
The next morning I asked the guy who had developed the property how long it took to make back the cost of a slot machine. I swear this is true: "Two days," he said. "This is a very good business."
Let's assume he was wrong by a factor of 50 and it really takes a little over three months to pay for a slot machine. For the next five years it just chugs along taking money from people who wear high black socks and flip-flops; and Bermuda shorts hiked up to their chest, cinched by a white belt.
I stayed at the Venetian Hotel where Bob Beckel - my Fox News Channel debate partner on Saturday mornings - and I have been booked to do a two-man act talking about the election situation.
Our slot was from 3-4:30 in the afternoon, but this is in the Pacific time zone so it was really from 6-7:30 in the evening.
The whole time zone thing confuses everyone. When I was in Iraq and my cell phone rang at 2:30 in the morning, I would roll over, press the answer button and say, "You counted the wrong way," and hang up.
After our panel, Beckel went to the Expo Center to sign some copies of the new book he and Cal Thomas have written, "Common Ground." I went to find us a restaurant.
I decided on an Italian place just off the Grand Canal and made a reservation for six o'clock. In the event we got there at 6:15, but my mind was doing the arithmetic noting that it was 9:15 in the East and I was not going to get MULLINGS out on time.
We had a meal and Bob said he was going to play the slot machines and some video poker. I told him that I didn't gamble, but I'd sit next to him for a while. Actually, I didn't know how slot machines worked, and I wanted to watch him.
He put a $20 bill into the machine and started pressing a button.
"That's it?" I asked.
"What did you think happened?" He answered.
I didn't have a good response so I took $20 out of my wallet and pushed it into the "Say Goodbye to Your Money" slot in the $1 machine.
Bob told me not to play three credits but to press the one credit button.
I did and I won $60 dollars. I kept playing and went up and down between $60 and $70. Bob went through his money in about six minutes. He moved to the machine on the other side of me and went through that $20 as well.
"Why would anyone do this if there weren't someone next to them to talk to?" I asked.
"Shut up," he said as he went to find a video poker machine.
I pressed the "Cash Out" button and a receipt came out indicating it was good for $65 dollars, meaning I was $45 to the good after about 10 minutes.
I told Bob I was going to go up and write a column and get to sleep.
Walking through the casino to find the cashier, I started thinking: If I make $45 every 10 minutes, that would be $270 per hour. If I did that for 8 hours per day, five days per week that would be $10,800 per week or $540,000 per year (if I take two weeks vacation - but if you live in Las Vegas, where would you go on vacation?).
Casinos make money because people like me start having thoughts like that.
I held the receipt over my head and waved it back and forth as I made my way though the casino asking everyone if they knew where the cashier was located. Because of that, some people may have thought my receipt was for somewhat more than $65.
Last thing. Someone told me that prostitution was legal in Las Vegas, but no one offered me any money, so I think that must not be true.On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: A link to the Bob Beckel/Cal Thomas book a Mullfoto which had me dazed and confused for hours and a catchy caption of the day.