Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Beyond the fruit machine

Call this the Casino Journal  mini-me version..... 

Somewhere between the budget miasma in Harrisburg, the news fog caused by the G20 and who knows what else, do people fully realize that Pennsylvania now has legalized table games in the casinos. Public debate? Discussion of any kind?   Some states even consider a public referendum for things like this.  People get up in arms over a pay raise for some legislators, yet this all goes without the least bit of consternation.  I don't get it.  The No Dice folks must be having a conniption.

What is really hard to reconcile:  A state that is just about the last holdout of state-controlled liquor sales somehow thinks a vast expansion of gambling activity is so trivial as to be passed without warning, debate or public discourse of any kind.  So controlling the ability the buy a bottle of wine is important, but expanding gambling is not even worth debating.  .

The question is why?  I do understand someone thinks table games will bring in $200 or so million dollars a year.  A lot of money for sure.  Yet the state budget as being reported is $27 billion. So we are talking about roughly 0.8% of the state budget.

Speaking of funny numbers.   I heard the casino's community guy  George Matta (former elected clerk of courts... there is a career path?  Also a former candidate for state house)  on TV say the casino has 90 full time police officers and that it was more than some local municipalities.  Well, looking a the list I compiled last month of local police officers by municipality it turns out that the casino has more police officers than ALL police departments in the county other than the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County itself.  Go figure. 

Some may have seen the PG story looking at the lost business Downtown during the G20 confab.  I have to admit I am curious what the casino numbers looked like during the same period.  Were they down because of the proximity to Downtown?  or maybe they were up from all the folks not going to work and heading to the casino instead?   We will see. 

But the numbers for the week before the G20 are out and they seem to be part of the rationale for the casino's bond rating to be lowered.  Which reminds me, what's the latest on thisUpdate: more casino finance comments from Dave.

Some reviews of the casino here at the AmericanCasinoGuide.com for what they are worth.

and some of the best gambling related numbers I have seen of late.   There is an absolutely hilarious (or depressing) table on page 9 of this paper:  The Lottery: a tax of people who are bad at math.  (opens a word file).

and Delaware tried to do us all one better and really tried to legalize gambling on single game professional sports events.  They just lost a court case filed to stop the idea from being implemented.  There is a combinatorics problem in the Delaware case.  It is aparently legal to bet on 3 sporting events at once; it's just illegal to bet on a single game's outcome which is what most do where sports books are legal (or where they are not).  Seems to me you could concoct a set of 3-game bets that work out to just betting on a single game. Probable gets too complicated with different odds on different games, but still.. anyone really good at math out there and want to help out the Delaware powers that be? 

Where is Nick Perry when you need him?  Just 4's and 6's is all he had to worry about.  The greatest part of that story is that there was someone thinking math.  They didn't just fix one number... it could have been any combination of 4's and 6's....  the (simplistic) idea was that it would spread out some of the betting and aide being detected among other reasons.  I bet even back then the detection algorithms then in use were more sophisticated than that.  The Mark 1 eyeball might even have noticed something odd in the betting leading into that scam.


Blogger aothman said...

As to your puzzle, you can do it pretty easily with four bets. given the following scenario:

A plays B
C plays D
Steelers play X

You have four parlays, call the amount risked (r1...r4) and payout odds (k1...k4):
Steelers, A, C. Steelers, B, C. Steelers A, D. Steelers, B, D.

Then given total amount to risk R, you can just solve the linear system of four unknowns (r1..r4) and four equations such that payoffs are equalized across outcomes and the net outlay is R.

With fair odds, the net result is a payoff when the Steelers win given the amount risked R. With unfair odds (what you'll get), you'll just end up paying a whole bunch in rake, which I'm sure delaware is aware of.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 5:24:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

and again, it all comes down to the null space. excellent.

I challenge the readers of any other burghospere blog to a math olympiad with null space readers.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 8:41:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

To be honest, I'm not really surprised about the table games. Anyone who thought that we were merely having slot machines in PA without soon adding table games was fooling themselves.

"The casino, to open in August, has 30,000 square feet of space it can devote to table games or extra slot machines. It would take four to seven months to get table games up and running." Source: June 25, 2009 Post-Gazette

Now why would they leave so much floor space open if they didn't think that table games were just around the corner?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 9:18:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Yes, I figured table games were unstoppable, especially after WV got them.

Speaking of math, lottery players may not be bad at math. They may just have non-linear utility functions and high risk tolerances. For example, somebody with $50 who owes $50,000.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 9:20:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

yeah yeah... folks may be risk-seeking. They certainly have to be to a certain degree.. at least for the $ amoungs typically put into lottery tickets. I think the experimental folks have looked at how much of it is that vice lack of undertanding of the lottery's payout. Still begs some irrationality why play the lottery vice other games that have higher expected returns. If we get table games does that include roulette or will if just be card games? If I had $50 needing $50K roulette would be a bit more efficient than the daily number.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 11:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Somewhat related, I heard a story on DUQ the other day about the state raising the limit on prizes that churches and other non-profs can payout on games of chance. I believe it went from $5K to $25K. And wouldn't you know, the state takes 20 percent of the organiztion's profits on gambling, and some wild figure was thrown out by a state legislator about how much more money the state would take in with the change. Of course, the money is earmarked for seniors or kids or something like that, but still, just how much of the state budget can be based on gambling revenue before it's all exposed as a house of cards (ha, ha)?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 9:33:00 AM  
Blogger fester said...

Chris, the G-20 week revenue for the Rivers Casino was FUGLY. That is about the best analytical term that I can find to describe the revenue streams. Two weeks ago, the Casino made ~ $175 per machine per day, during the G-20 week, the take per machine per day was $132. The state and S&P projection is a steady state of $300 to $310 per machine per day, and the ownership group was projecting $352 per machine per day.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 11:24:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

no fester comment on the SEA bond news?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 12:11:00 PM  
Blogger fester said...

had to chase my daughter and change diapers, and then took a nap ---- very very curious, so the Commonwealth is actually backing the Commonwealth Lease despite the fact the bond prospectus is written in such a way to give significant wiggle room.

I'm betting the Commonwealth will soon be ponying up the Rivers Casino portion of the bond bill.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009 3:56:00 PM  

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