Games of 'skill' | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Games of 'skill'

Posted By on Thu, Aug 17, 2006 at 3:02 PM

You knew that video poker and blackjack would be the primary games of choice when Southland and Oaklawn added "electronic games of skill" to their offerings this fall. Southland has now admitted as much. Oaklawn is still maintaining a fiction that this matter is under careful study. But getta loada this: Southland, which is at least more honest about the matter, says it will have 900 slots jingling by Nov. 1 and they will include something called "re-spin" slots in which you insert a coin, spin some numbers, decide which ones to keep from the first spin and then spin again.

Points to remember: TheArkansas Constitution has a provision that outlaws lotteries. No amount of  "skill" will defeat the machine-set payoff rate of these one-armed bandits at Southland and Oaklawn. (It is true that you can decrease your chances of winning by, say, tossing away a pat hand of four aces and drawing new cards.) But spinning randomly generated numerical wheels is a skill? Farce is more like it. 

Here's another question: Once Oaklawn and Southland have operated these "games of skill" for a few years, what legal impediment bars them from asking the legislature to make a tiny little ol' change that would allow real live dealers of poker and blackjack hands. And if betting what numbers will come up to match a first spin, what's to say calling the outcome of a roll of dice is not a "skill." Of course, these table games aren't nearly so advantageous to the house. A card-counter can even beat the house at blackjack on occasion. With the slot machines, that will never happen. They'll rake a 10 to 17 percent return to the house (a fraction of which will go to taxes) on every coin dropped in the coin slot.

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