Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Place Your Bets

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Place Your Bets

Article excerpt

Forty-five years ago I lost a whole week's pocket money on a single hand of cards.

I held a prial of fives which I felt could not be beaten - but it was.

It was a lesson that put me off serious gambling. An annual fiver each way on the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup has been my limit ever since - until last month.

Las Vegas is the last place on earth we would have chosen for a holiday, but it was chosen for us - an invitation to the wedding of two good friends in the famous Little White Chapel of Joan Collins fame.

And we would not have missed it for the world.

Las Vegas is a fairyland for adults, a living pantomine, a giant pastiche of kitsch, created with multi-billion dollar panache.

A far cry from Middlesbrough's old Marimba and Contessa clubs for those old enough to remember.

Tacky maybe, but done on such a massive scale you cannot fail to be impressed. Where else can you cross the road from the Arc de Triomphe to have dinner overlooking the Venetian Grand Canal?

The gambling - mindblowing acres of slot machines and tables - provides the funding. But it is the top flight entertainment, including superstar cabaret, and general good living - at reasonable cost - that creates the Vegas atmosphere.

Strip away the big hotels' theme park style decors, the extravagant theatres, multi-star restaurants and designer shopping malls, leaving only the casino floors, and I suspect it would have little appeal for most people.

For while every one of the big hotel venues, such as the legendary Caesar's Palace, Paris, the Aladdin, the Bellagio, Treasure Island or Luxor has its own style, the actual gambling floors are much of a muchness. Seen one, you've seen 'em all.

Which is why, I suspect, the introduction of so called supercasinos in this country, will fall flat on its face.

Putting aside the moral issues of deregulated gambling, the fact is that a single casino in isolation could never hope to achieve the Las Vegas effect - because the Vegas appeal depends on the massive choice on offer there. …

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