Slot Machines, casino
As if they didn't have enough already, casinos are looking for new ways to make money. Rather than focusing on games of chance like roulette and slot machines, they're now toying with games based on skill. David Kestenbaum of NPR's Planet Money podcast went to Atlantic City to play.
DAVID KESTENBAUM, BYLINE: The game was a simple one - throw a ball through a ring 10 feet off the ground 15 feet away, otherwise known as a basketball free-throw shooting contest.
KAMAL HUNT: I'm pretty sure I'm going to win. My chances are very, very high.
KADEZIA HUNT: My chances are looking good. I'm going to win. I'm going to beat him, so it doesn't matter, OK?
KESTENBAUM: That's Kadezia (ph) Hunt and her brother, Kamal. They’d come to the Borgata Casino, paid $20 each, for a chance at winning thousands. Though unlike most casino games, chance did not have much to do with it. Someone said you should go interview that guy over there - Ed Palubinskas - the guy with the ring.
What's that ring you're wearing?
ED PALUBINSKAS: That's an LA Lakers. I was a shooting coach for the Lakers.
KESTENBAUM: Any player in particular?
PALUBINSKAS: Guy by name of Shaq - I worked with him.
KESTENBAUM: (Laughter) Guy by the name of Shaq.
PALUBINSKAS: Yeah, we - I improved him from 38 to 69.
KESTENBAUM: Percent free-throw shooter?
PALUBINSKAS: Yeah, biggest improvement in history.
KESTENBAUM: Ed is in his mid-60s, balding, wire-rimmed glasses and a total ringer.
What percentage free-throw shooter are you?
KESTENBAUM: Ed stepped up to the line - every shot perfection.
In, in - this is the greatest free-throw shooting I've ever witnessed in my entire life. In - oh.
He just missed one. One potential problem with a casino offering a skill-based game, like a free-throw contest, is that only one person comes - Ed. Who would want to go up against Ed?
Apparently, plenty of people - hundreds and hundreds came. A lot of them were young. That was one of the reasons for this experiment. Young people apparently don't want to sit quietly in front of slot machines. Casinos worry about that.
Part of the appeal of games with dice and cards is that anything can happen. But even in games of skill there are still surprises. Shaq's free-throw coach amazingly got knocked out. And when the pool finally narrowed to two finalists, neither was a ringer. One was a first grade teacher. The other finalist - a guy named Wayne Nelson - had a very surprising strategy. He hurled every ball off the backboard, which was genius. He'd realized something about these hoops.
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