Sunday, August 26, 2018

The politics of a Vegas haunted house

There were rumors that the annual haunted attraction "Fright Dome" was not coming back to the amusement park at Circus Circus this year. There were a few tidbits to suggest all was not kosher in the world of amusement park death, and some of those came from the fine folks at the Vital Vegas blog. (It's one guy.)

Now Vital Vegas has some interesting inside scoop on how the relationship between the dirty Circus and the folks that run Fright Dome have broken down. The company running Fright Dome, a horror attraction run seasonally within the amusement park by a company called Egan Productions, also runs an escape room based upon the "Saw" horror movies. It's unclear why the seemingly lackluster performance of the escape room, which does not seem to be tied to the Circus Circus property or corporate parent MGM, has ended the business relationship between the dirty Circus and Egan Productions. But it has something to do with money, naturally. It always does. (UPDATE:
The Vital Vegas blog post has been amended to offer an explanation for how the business relationship between the entities has deteriorated.)

My guess, and it's purely a guess, is that there's some sort of business arrangement that requires some sort of up-front payment by Egan Productions. Rent, if you will. The dirty Circus can't be giving Egan Productions use of the amusement park space for free. I suspect Egan rents its space, brings in its sets and props, pays the employees and collects on the back end, meaning they get a cut of admissions sold during the haunt season. If Egan is hemorrhaging cash right now, they might not be in a position to make payments up front for their 2018 rent, and at a certain point they get the boot. 

A couple of things in the Vital Vegas blog piqued my interest. 

One tidbit that the fine folks at Vital Vegas reported is that "Circus Circus expressed it would run its own haunted house." 

That wouldn't surprise me. I have had a seasonal job for most of the past 12 years at the corporate owned amusement park in the Minneapolis area, which started its own haunted attraction in 2006. (I work building security these days, but I was once an actor. Boy do I have stories, and I've written plenty of them for a different blog.) While I don't study the amusement park industry, I'm well aware that our corporate parent runs haunted attractions at its parks around the country, as do some of the other heavy hitters in the amusement park industry. With all the parks in the haunt business, it wouldn't surprise me if MGM decides it wants to invest in its amusement park and run its own operation in the future. That won't happen this year, but it could definitely happen in 2019. 

MGM could have pulled the plug at the end of any contract period, or simply non-renewed its lease with Egan Productions, I imagine. Perhaps the wheels were already in motion. Perhaps MGM is working on plans to cut out Egan and run its own show, and the demise of Fright Dome is simply an unplanned hiccup. 

It makes plenty of sense. If the corporate penny pinchers at MGM, who never stop finding a way to make an extra $5, realize that they're making a certain amount of money per season at Fright Dome, and surmise they could make more than that by cutting out the production company, then of course they'll do that. Although, this assumes they want to invest in ownership of their haunted attraction. It will take hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop attractions that work within the confines of their amusement park. Yes, it will cost a lot of money to design several attractions that people will pay big money to see. I'm no expert, but that's not exactly a trade secret. 

Will we see a new haunted attraction at the dirty Circus in the future? I could see why MGM would say yes, and I could see why MGM would say no. I don't know how lucrative the Fright Dome deal is, and that will likely influence the eventual decision. If I had to wager $5, my hunch is that they'll try to develop their own. 

It sounds like Vital Vegas has insight into the financials of their business agreement. He often has Vegas insight. I, ironically, don't. 

For the record, I've never been to Fright Dome, and that's by design. You can't trust any one online review, but I've ready more than a couple of reviews that suggested over the past several years that the attraction is so popular that the lines are too long to get through all of the haunted attractions during any one admission without paying for the "fast pass" upgrade that plops you into a faster moving line. The "fast pass" seems to be a marketing strategy that amusement parks embrace, and why not? We live in a country where not all men and women are financially equal, and with that, some places will cater to those with more dollars to part with. Not a new phenomena. 

But given that Fright Dome has a reputation of being overrun by obnoxious teens, and the fact that I h have worked at an amusement park overrun with obnoxious teens every October, seeing the Vegas version of that held limited appeal. Yeah, I've had mild curiosity, but not enough to spend a night of my Vegas Halloween trip at the dirty Circus. (I've been in Vegas five of the past seven years on Halloween night.)

When Vital Vegas notes that "Fright Dome at Adventuredome was considered the premier Halloween haunted house in Las Vegas," I'm not sure I agree. 

It depends upon how you define premier. It's the most noteworthy for tourists, as it's on the strip, and it draws big crowds to the amusement park. If you base the statement upon which puts the most asses on the property, I'm sure Fright Dome wins.

But given my experience and observations during the past seven years, anyone who critiques the quality of the production and the originality of the show would tell you that Freakling Bros., a locally-owned haunted attraction, is the premier attraction in the Vegas area. It just doesn't do the volume that Fright Dome does, for a variety of reasons. Do a little Googling and you'll soon find out that it gets plenty of raves from all corners of the haunt industry. And I echo those sentiments. I've written about it, too, both for this blog and for my aforementioned blog. 

Either way, the demise of a haunted attraction at the dirty Circus has been extra interesting for me to read about, even if I had no intention of visiting it. It will be interesting to watch what happens in 2019. The dirty Circus might return with a new haunted attraction, and I wouldn't rule out Egan Productions finding a new place to try selling its product in the Vegas area. 


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

It was a long, wild night on the Vegas strip

We returned to Vegas on Tuesday night, after spending half of our day in Phoenix. We had three items on our Phoenix agenda prior to departure.

Woody likes to tour state capitols, so we did that in Phoenix. The capitol has a self-guided tour of its original footprint, built more than 100 years ago. The current capitol offices, as well as the house and senate chambers, are on the capitol campus, but were built decades after the initial capitol. The current capitol offices are attached to the original footprint, but the original space has not been repurposed. Instead it is a museum of state history. It's free to tour, and worth an hour of your time.

This is the original Arizona House of Representatives chambers.

Following the capitol tour we headed back to the ballpark. Yes, we returned to the ballpark. No, there wasn't a day game. We toured the ballpark early in the afternoon. The Diamondbacks offer tours of Chase Field for $7, with the proceeds benefiting one of their charitable efforts. The tour includes the standard building history and fun facts. Some ballpark tours include a tour of the press box. Some include a clubhouse tour if it's not during a team home stand. Chase Field offered neither, but we did get to visit the Diamondbacks dugout.

I look like a member of the grounds crew, not a member of a professional baseball team. 

Beef played the part of an outraged manager in the press area of the stadium.

Our final stop in Phoenix before departure, late lunch at the downtown Tilted Kilt. It's not on my bucket list when we travel, but it has decent food and is reasonably priced, typically. Yeah, it's a breastaurant, and not a place I'd take children, but I've never felt like I've overpaid. Woody suggests it when we travel. I'm not about to say no.

We took a different route back to Vegas, traveling north out of Phoenix. This was a more scenic drive into the mountains.

So Wednesday morning rolls around and we don't do much. Beef is thinking about and researching possible tours he wants to do, Woody was up bright and early and put in more than an hour in the fitness center. I woke up, made my simple breakfast, put in 30 minutes at the fitness center and returned around lunchtime. Woody walked with me to drop off postcards at the lobby of Grandview, and showed me where the hidden fitness center is. We chatted while I began riding the exercise bike, and we both speculated that Beef would not shower before I returned from my 30-minute workout, despite the fact he could have, and knowing that we were going to lunch at some point after we both cleaned up.

Sure enough, I return to the room and Beef is working his phone, contemplating tours of the Grand Canyon. So I shower first, at his suggestion, and sometime after 1 p.m. we finally head out for lunch. We decided to go back to Ellis Island, where my Las Vegas Advisor coupon will get us a free meal in the cafe. Beef, Woody and I all ordered a giant beer before our meal, and Beef and I had the prime rib dinner for our late lunch. Woody opted for chicken-fried steak, or something like that. Our waitress was fabulous, and comped one of the more expensive prime rib dinners, despite the fact she should have comped Woody's cheaper meal. It ain't fancy, but I love Ellis Island.

Lunch at Ellis Island. Woody is on the left. 
Woody wanted to do more strip exploration, so we dropped him off on the back side of Flamingo, the hotel where we stayed in 2000 when Beef and I crashed his room while he was there for work. That was the last time these guys had been to Vegas. Me? I've been there about 25 times since that April 2000 gathering.

Beef and I returned to Grandview so I could finally put in a little time at the pool. Beef decided he wanted a massage. A real, legit massage, not one of those "happy ending" massages at the 24-hour joints. So I turned over the SUV to him and headed to the room at 4 p.m.

I headed down to one of the pools to soak up a little sun, with a beer in hand. There are several pool areas at Grandview, and our room looked down upon one. Unfortunately it was the children's play pool, not the place I wanted to hang. So I walked a couple of buildings over for a regular pool area. I parked my butt and slathered on sun screen, despite the fact it was mostly cloudy at the moment, and rather dark to the south.

I had been at the pool for about 15 minutes when a few light drops of rain started to fall. I didn't worry about it. I figured it wasn't really going to rain. The wind picked up a bit, but again, no worries. Then a security guard and lifeguard announced that the pool was closing, and that we had to vacate the pool area. I was not happy.

So by 5 p.m. I was back in our room, not sure what to do with myself. It never rained, by the way.

I toyed with the idea of going to South Point to play poker, but opted instead to use the laptop to write the previous installment of this blog. Writing is an enjoyable recreation, despite the fact I do it for a living. Since I don't usually have a computer with me, I took advantage of the fact I dragged the company laptop with and wrote a mid-trip update. I goofed around for a while before I sat down to do so, and Beef came back to prior to me sitting down to write.

He rolled in after 6 p.m. and I expected to hear he had found a local spa to get a massage. He considered going to the spa at South Point, but that ain't cheap. I figured he could find a local, non-casino place that wasn't all the way up near the strip. But I was wrong.

According to Beef he drove around looking, stopped to make calls on his phone and finally decided to book a 7 p.m. service at a Massage Envy in Henderson. So he returned to Grandview at approximately 6:15 to tell me he was getting a 60-minute massage at 7 p.m.

At that point I knew I had time to write, so I gave myself an hour to pound out all the details I could, starting at 7 p.m.

So I put a wrap on my writing about 8 p.m., expecting to receive a text from Beef that he was on his way back to pick me up. I thought we were going to have dinner at the Palms buffet, using my Las Vegas Advisor coupon, but that clearly wasn't happening on this particular evening. No big deal, I figured.

I finally received a text from Beef about 8:30 p.m., 30 minutes later than I expected. According to Beef, the woman on the phone was hard to understand, and seemed confused. Despite the fact he wanted a 60-minute massage, she penciled him in for 90 minutes. Beef, always the sucker, shows up, finds out there was a mistake and decides a 90-minute massage sounds like a nice treat. It was an amazing massage, he claims.

Woody and I have been in contact by text while I'm waiting to head back to the strip. He doesn't seem bothered that we haven't returned to fetch him. The dude covered a lot of ground. He was up at the Venetian, over at Cosmopolitan and made stops elsewhere. I thought he was nuts, but he likes pounding the pavement and seeing places he visited many years ago.

He had returned to Flamingo and sat down at a bar to have a beer. That's where he made the acquaintance of a woman from Ohio. She was friendly, our age and wanted to meet Woody's friends. I wanted nothing to do with the strip, honestly, and I didn't want to have to park on the strip, purely on principle. When Beef finally returned to Grandview I met him in the parking lot and we headed straight to the strip. Things were about to get interesting.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

I interrupt my Vegas vacation for a mid-week report

Thanks to a buddy who is essentially committing four hours for a massage at a national chain commonly found in suburban strip malls, I have time on my hands.

And only because of my own idiocy, I have the capability to provide a mid-trip report here in the greater Vegas area.

Never mind the fact I haven't written one thing about my Fourth of July week visit.

This trip is essentially an annual gathering of college friends. Beef, Woody and I all know each other through college, and have all traveled very different paths since our time stomping the campus grounds of our western Wisconsin alma mater.

This wasn't intended to be an annual trip when it started humbly enough in 2012. Beef was living in Boston, Woody in Milwaukee and me in Minneapolis. Woody wanted to travel to Boston and visit Beef, and he encouraged me to join along. The itinerary was light, but the primary goal was to attend a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park.

Woody has been attending games at MLB parks for years, and as of last year has been to all 30 parks. I've never shared his goal, but through previous travels I've attended games with him in Seattle, Los Angeles, Detroit, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago and Baltimore.

Now I'm on a quest to visit all 30 ballparks, too.

Since 2012, Woody and I have taken a few trips to destinations around the country. Some of those trips were second visits by him to a ballpark he has been to before, some were to destinations on his list.

In 2013 we went to Texas for games in Arlington and Houston. In 2014 we went to Pittsburgh. In 2016 we went to Florida for games in Miami and St. Petersburg.

During that 2016 trip, we called Beef, jokingly, and asked when he was going to join us in Florida. Much to our surprise, he wished he could have done so. He's not a huge baseball fan, but he would have enjoyed touring Florida with us.

So last year he joined us for half of a road trip that included MLB games in St. Louis, Atlanta and Cincinnati. This year we were aiming for a trip to San Francisco and Oakland, but we had to postpone it. When looking at the replacement possibilities that made sense for 2018, we decided we'd visit Phoenix.

Woody and I had discussed the Phoenix trip a few years ago. We decided that when we did it, we'd go to Vegas and drive over to Phoenix. Woody hasn't been to Vegas since 2000, and is always curious about how places have changed since he last visited. He doesn't love Vegas, but liked the idea of revisiting a city he had been to a few times for work purposes.

And as a bonus to our Phoenix game, we agreed we'd have to see a minor league baseball game in Vegas.

So with plan B in motion, Beef flew into Minneapolis last Friday, spent the night at my place and flew out with me on Saturday afternoon. Woody flew in from Milwaukee a couple hours later. Well, three hours later, as his connecting flight into Vegas was delayed about an hour.

Beef and I had picked up our rental vehicle for the week and checked into our accommodations for this very atypical Vegas vacation. We're staying at a timeshare metropolis.

Beef is a government employee who happens to work for the military. He gets access to some of the deals offered to those who are serving in the military, and one of those deals is access to cheap use of timeshare units at places all over the country. (And perhaps internationally, I don't know.) For three of us, a regular hotel room might not been the best arrangement. But a timeshare unit has worked out great, even if we're five miles south of the strip.

We're staying at Grandview, an eight-building complex with a ridiculous number of units. It's across the street from South Point, where I've never been, and it was cheap. Our total bill for 7 nights is less than $400.

There are pros and cons of a timeshare unit in Vegas, and perhaps I'll detail those another week. For now, on with the trip report.

So what do three dudes do on a Saturday night in Vegas? Grandview gave us discount coupons for the Silverton buffet. No, not the South Point buffet right across the street, the buffet a couple miles up the freeway. So we went there. With coupons we all got a 50-percent discount on our meals. For Saturday night's buffet, which has a bit of a Hawaiian theme, the cost is $24. We paid $12 each.

Decent food, slightly disappointing overall variety. The place was quite busy at 8:30, and they made it clear that at 9:15 the food disappears. Service was a bit lackluster. They cleared plates, but didn't seem interested in refiling drinks.

Food was decent, and I ate too much, but I didn't love it. I wouldn't hurry back, and I'd rather have a normal meal than pay $24 on a Saturday night for their buffet. But at $12: What a bargain!

I was on fumes by Saturday night, so after our late buffet we came back to the timeshare and had a beer, purchased prior to Woody's arrival at a local Walmart. There was no wild Saturday night in our futures.

Sunday comes, we're a bit slow to get the wheels in motion, but Woody and Beef go to the fitness center for a while. I decline, as I brought the laptop with me, as there were a few work-related odds and ends nagging at me, and I didn't want to let them go unattended prior to Monday morning. So I spent an hour or so working on my first morning in Vegas.

Perhaps I could have left the computer at home if I had worked longer on Friday night back in Minnesota. I was up until 3 a.m., but Beef and I spent a couple of hours having beers and playing pinball at the ultra-hip retro arcade bar in Minneapolis. Guys have priorities.

Brunch for us was at the South Point buffet. Good, and slightly cheaper than advertised since a portion of the buffet is under renovation and therefore they don't have as many serving stations as usual. They had plenty to offer and we liked it better than Silverton.

Our Sunday afternoon began with an hour or more of pinball at the Pinball Hall of Fame, and then we headed to the strip for some old-fashioned sightseeing. We started at Tropicana, which is still a nice, old-time property devoid of any atmosphere or energy. It's sad, it wasn't that way 20 years ago.

We moved over to New York New York where we wandered around like typical tourists. I'm pretty sure neither Beef nor Woody had ever seen the inside of the place. I warned them that many of the strip casinos wouldn't be quite so ornate.

From there it was over to MGM, which I hadn't set foot inside in at least a decade. I didn't recognize anything, as it has been renovated plenty since the days when I roamed the behemoth.

We did find Level Up, the millennial-inspired gaming area that mixes arcades and gambling. As everyone else has reported, it's not very lively. Beef played a $1 game of giant Pac-Man, so I guess the concept is a success.

They did have the community gaming stations there, but weren't dealing community blackjack, or whatever they refer to the concept as. I am mildly interested in trying it, but it may not happen on this trip.

Woody, who isn't much of a gambler, decided to put a few bucks in a machine at MGM. With not much of a buy-in, he managed to trigger a bonus round that paid him $91. It was pretty entertaining to watch, and he was quite proud to be a winner.

We decided that Sunday night's dinner was going to be at Ellis Island, where we went to the BBQ restaurant, and used the reliable Las Vegas Advisor coupon for one free meal. Everybody was fat and happy, and the price was right.

We stuck around long enough to redeem the coupon for three free drinks at the bar. Woody wasn't drinking, so he tried his luck on the slots at Ellis Island. He had won another $30 or so on a machine there before we sat down for dinner, so he was convinced he was on a hot streak. That ended with the chicken and ribs, evidently.

After Ellis Island we returned to Grandview. I still had an hour or so of work to do before bed. Woody and Beef went to South Point. Beef wasn't interested in staying long, but wanted to go for a short stroll before calling it a night. More than an hour later Woody returns, without Beef. We were asleep before he returned, and I still don't know what the hell he was doing over there since he's not a gambler, either.

Monday morning arrived and we made eggs and toast in our Grandview unit. That was enough to get us started for the day. We were off to Phoenix for our baseball game. We had about five hours of driving ahead of us, and the game started at 6:40 p.m.

We had plenty of time to spare, but a major accident on Highway 93 south, along a two-lane stretch of undivided highway, ate up that spare time. Had we passed through that area 10 or 15 minutes earlier, perhaps we would have avoided it. But traffic was closed in both directions and we were stuck on the highway, along with hundreds of other cars in both directions, for about two hours. We started to doubt we'd be going to Monday night's game.

Not much to do while stuck on the highway but go for a walk in 106F heat.

But we made it to our hotel, a short walk from the ballpark, with little time to spare. We got to our seats at Chase Field just as the game was beginning. What a relief.

It was a fun game, albeit a long one. The home team, the Arizona Diamondbacks, defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 3-2 in 14 innings. The Phillies were leading 2-0 in the bottom of the ninth, and we had no idea more than an hour of baseball was yet to be played as the bottom of the ninth began.

Since we hadn't really had lunch, and didn't eat anything at the ballpark, other than peanuts, a late meal was necessary. We drove to a nearby In-N-Out for a midnight meal.

Tuesday's itinerary concluded with a return to Vegas, and I'll detail that further when after this trip is completed. I have a busy two days ahead of me, and Beef is due to return any moment from a massage he was seeking four hours ago.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Pinball: The best bet in Vegas

Slot machine players are as superstitious as they come.

Anybody who plays the slots frequently will eventually determine which machine is lucky, which game is the best for bonus payouts and which machine or game never pays anything.

I've never been much of a slot machine player. Even with fancy bonus games and giant video boards that turn a slot machine into a miniature video game, I'm just not that interested.

My favorite machines to play in Vegas still take quarters, and they rarely pay anything back. But dollar for dollar, the best entertainment value I find in Las Vegas is a pinball machine, and I can find plenty of them in Las Vegas at the Pinball Hall of Fame.

I learned about the HOF the same way many others have, through an article extolling the jaw-dropping sight of dozens of pinball machines, ready to play, in one place. I don't remember where I saw the article, but it was prior to January 2007. Since that time there have been countless articles, blog posts and tips from me, and others, to check out the best bet in Vegas.

I was a typical '80s kid. When video games exploded, I was hooked. Sure, I spent money on comic books, baseball cards and candy, but plenty of my dollars went toward Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and the games that followed.

I didn't play a lot of pinball during my youth, but for some reason I was drawn to one of a handful of pinball machines at the mall arcade in the early to mid-80s: "Space Shuttle." That was the only pinball game that I'd play with any regularity.

Until college. I dabbled with a game at the video store in downtown River Falls, Wisconsin, during the late 1980s. I can't definitively what that game was, but I'm pretty sure it was "High Speed." There was a modest fascination circa 1992-93 with "Cue Ball Wizard." It's a fun game, and was in a local bar. I was still in college, and of drinking age.

My last dabbling with a specific pinball machine was circa 1994. As a young college graduate who commuted between Small Town, Wisconsin, and the Minneapolis suburbs every weekend, I'd stop at a truck stop along the way, and it had a game room. I found "Tee'd Off" there, and I was hooked. So much so that nearly 20 years later I'd buy one of those machines.

I played my share of video games throughout my life, and never lost my love for those '80s video games. When I was in St. Louis in 1994 I visited some sort of arcade museum that had playable video games from the '80s. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen. Little did I know that 20 years later we'd be seeing "barcades" paying homage to those same machines.

I enjoyed the sometimes simple home video games of the '80s and '90s as well. I'm not a modern video game player. I haven't bought a home video game system in more than 20 years, and I don't anticipate doing so in the next 20 years. My old systems have been sitting in a storage bin for years. I just don't have the time to enjoy them, especially since I spend too much time online obsessing about Vegas.

In 2007 I had no intention of becoming a devotee of pinball, but my natural curiosity for arcade machines of yesteryear changed my life during a January trip to Vegas.

I didn't typically rent a car back in those days, but I needed one for a portion of  that trip. Yes, needed it. (I suppose I could have paid for cabs to get where I needed to go, but I probably would have spent as much on cab fares as I did on the rental car. (Long story for another blog post.)

Since I had the rental car, I made a point to find my way to the first home of the HOF, since I had read about it and was too curious not to see it. I wasn't a huge pinball fan at the time, but that all changed when I stepped into that strip mall arcade and found 100 or more pinball machines crammed inside, along with a smattering of vintage video games. I didn't have a ton of time to spare that day, maybe 90 minutes, but playing pinball games from multiple eras, all at one place, was incredible. I don't exactly know why, but I was hooked.

Since then, every trip to Vegas has included a visit to the HOF, if not more than one. I play some of my old favorites, including "Tee'd Off," which is playable in my basement right now. And I play games I've rarely, if ever, plugged quarters into.

Yeah, I can find pinball machines all over the Minneapolis area, and I'll play pinball locally on a regular basis, but there's nothing like the HOF. You not only get a healthy variety of machines from different eras, you get a chance to play games that are rather rare and hard to find elsewhere around the country, even with online maps that tell you what bars and arcades have machines in your area.

Beyond the 200+ pinball machines in the HOF today, there are a couple dozen classic video games, and a variety of odd, quirky machines that you probably never knew existed. Some of these old gaming machines, such as an electro-mechanical poker machine, are simple, yet amazing to play. That quirky poker machine is from the '50s. It doesn't have a screen or a computer inside of it, and yet it knows how to assess the poker hand you've made from a bunch of bouncing balls that fall into the holes of the playfield. Simple, yet fun.

But yeah, the pinball machines are the primary reason I'm there.

So why is it I have this late-in-life fascination with pinball? I'm not entirely sure, but I have a pretty good idea.

I've always loved video games, and pinball is a similar concept. You're using skill to succeed at a game. A friend I met a couple of years after that 2007 Vegas trip, who owns several pinball machines, did a nice job of explaining the appeal of pinball to me. He noted that unlike a video game, where your game is bound by the limits of a programmed environment, there's a physical element to pinball that can't be programmed. Yes, the targets and playfield are designed, and there are rules to the game, but all the skill in the world can't overcome the fact that withing the playfield of a pinball machine, you can make the same shot 99 times in a row, yet that 100th shot might not roll the same way, even when you think you'd hit the shot the exact same way.

That's not to say the game is random, but it definitely has an element to it that's not subjected to computer programming. Couple that with challenging shots, rule sets that provide bonuses, such as multi-ball play, to the game, colorful graphics and innovative designs elements, and suddenly you have a game that's far more compelling than your realized.

Because I play a mix of pinball machines I'm good at, and games I'm not, I will spend several dollars per visit. But I typically spend less than $10 during a two-hour visit to the HOF. Other than people watching, name a better source of entertainment that costs less than $5/hour.

There's no jackpots to be won at the HOF, but I come away a winner every time I visit. For my money, it's the best bet in Vegas.