Every week you hear terrible tales about how the airlines are screwing over their own customers, but it seems that mentality is spreading to the Vegas blackjack tables as well. This story in the L.A. Times reports that many casinos in Las Vegas are changing the rules of blackjack.
Yes, there’s always been a tweak here, a tweak there to give the house a slightly better edge, but these were changes at the margins–using more decks, for instance, or introducing the “surrender” (over time, a sucker’s bet). But the beauty of the game has been that it is easy to understand and no matter where you played it in the world, you could sit down at the table and know what to expect. In other words, a fair game where nobody got hoodwinked without knowing it.
Now places like the Flamingo and MGM Grand are running games that only pay 6-to-5 when a customer scores blackjack, instead of the 3-to-2 that it has always been. This, and other changes that benefit the house make it an almost sure bet that even if you play perfectly, over time you will lose money.
This is a shame, and another sign that the bean counters are taking all the fun out of Vegas. This used to be one of the bargain-hunters dream places. If you did your homework and made the right moves, you could have a great vacation on a reasonable budget and score some great bargains along the way. Unfortunately, the good times are drying up and the city is on its way to becoming just another place trying to pull in the most upscale travelers only. Battles over the plushest suites, the biggest spas, the hippest velvet-rope nightspots. Yawn….