Oh Craps!

As a citizen of Canada, I should be waving the Maple Leaf but aesthetically I prefer the Stars and Stripes. In fact, there are a lot of things I prefer about the USA. Don’t get me wrong, I love the beauty of the Canadian landscape and I appreciate Ontario’s health care, which has improved dramatically for me since turning 65, as well as the gorgeous women of Winnipeg. But…
I love the patriotism shown by Americans, the school spirit instilled in students from a very young age and the NFL. Their Canuck counterparts are general apathy and crappy football. And the American Rockies, the Grand Canyon and the National Parks in Utah boast scenery second to none.
I think the governments on both sides of the border suck ― each has its own brand of dirty politics ― but because I have been watching the local politicians change policies, causing job losses by the thousands and shoveling money into the fire by the billions, I tend to dislike our Canadian version more. The arrogance of those in power is unfreakingbelievable!
For example, the Provincial government decided seemingly overnight and without notice to close down the slot operations at racetracks, negating the $1.1 billion per year the racinos have been paying into the Liberal coffers. What once was a partnership is now called a “subsidy” by the government. The jobs of up to 60,000 direct and indirect horse and agriculture industry workers are in jeopardy. This while GM is about to close another plant in Oshawa and cut 2,000 workers loose. And the list goes on. I have already lost 20% of my income due to cutbacks in race days at Woodbine racetrack, a world class operation and one of the top three in North America.

Woodbine Racetrack

Woodbine Racetrack from the Press Box

The province apparently wants to build 19 more destination casinos like the three they already have, two in Niagara Falls and one in Windsor, which lose about $500,000 a year! It makes me want to throw up.

Fallsview Casino - Niagara Falls, ON

Fallsview Casino – Niagara Falls, ON

Auntie M and I have always preferred to gamble in American casinos and used to make several trips each year to Vegas plus frequent hops over the border to Seneca Casino. We were treated like kings, whether we were at MGM properties on the strip or at the native-owned casino in Niagara Falls, New York. In fact, the Seneca buffet is awesome! I can always find something I like even though my junk food tastes make me very fussy and hard to please.

Seneca Casino - Niagara Falls, NY

Seneca Casino – Niagara Falls, NY

Just FYI…we stopped living (going to casinos was the fun part of our lives) when we started a business, and in hindsight, we should have stuck with gambling. We were good at that. But the memories burn bright. The point I’m trying to make is that Canadian casinos take every advantage, giving as little as possible back to their customers. In the States we always had free rooms, free food, free parking and free shows. It didn’t matter whether we won or lost, as long as we played. You have to beg for comps in Ontario. No free alcoholic beverages, either. I rarely drink when I play, but when I do, the Mirage has the best Margaritas around.

Aunty M & He-Who in Vegas

Aunty M & He-Who in Vegas

Another place I fell in love with was Reno and its Peppermill Hotel and Casino. We spend a week at a convention there and naturally I spent my evenings at the tables. When I arrived on the casino floor the SECOND day I was greeted by name and smiles by several dealers! In Canada you’d only get that from the pit boss, sans smile, if at all.
The main reason I hate playing over here, however, is because the local casinos have machines that are continuously shuffling the cards. I don’t mind a shuffle master that uses six or even eight decks which have to be replaced in the machine to be mixed. I’d rather see the dealer getting a break and shuffling the cards him/herself. And in Vegas, I prefer to play single or double deck Black Jack which is unheard of in the great white north. If I’m losing at cards, I like to take my action to the craps table. BUT YOU CAN’T FIND A CRAPS TABLE IN NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO!!!!! (scream it out ala Sam Kinison) except on weekends at the downsized Casino Niagara and rarely is there more than one open (if it’s open) at the Falls View.
It’s an all ‘round better experience in the USA. Just saying.


43 thoughts on “Oh Craps!

  1. Let’s trade – you can live in Tucson AZ – near casinos and LV and just an 8 hour flight to NJ’s Atlantic City….and I’ll live in Ontario and get to use the ‘province’ – which I never get to do in the States. Deal?
    P.S. I hate football (the American kind) – you can have that too!

    • Hi Rutabaga, If it was possible, I’d trade you in a NY second! Atlantic City has never appealed to me but I love the thought of Tucson’s warmth. I take it you just don’t like football. The rules in Canadian football are different to the NFL and with only three downs instead of four, the local game is pretty boring compared to yours. I apologize for my rant, but I haven’t been feeling the humor lately. But thank you for reading my feeble attempt at a blog and we we can do a deal, lets! Woggins

      • I crave the ice in my glass of pepsi (or other beverage). I skated on my ankles as a kid and never made the hockey team. And ever since, for some reason or another, I don’t like watching hockey. (I did enjoy the women’s US/Canada game during the Olympics, though, and was proud of the Cdn captain’s bitching about being ripped off). I did play baseball, basketball and football for years. If you get down here I can fix you up with friends who play everything from ice hockey to ball hockey, and even some killer Lacrosse.

      • I don’t know what it is about being on the ice – but it feels like the most natural place for me to be. I started skating when I was two – my (Canadian) father put me in the middle of an iced over basketball rink and had me make it back….then we moved to Tucson and I didn’t skate for years – in my 30s I decided to learn to play hockey (I’d not done much with organized sports prior) – it was the most amazing experience of my life. I wish I had started playing as a tot. I LOVE playing defense. I like to watch too – but I love to play. We are both in the wrong country!!! I think the UA has a good basketball team….

      • It’s that (your) love of the game that got me watching the women’s Can/US olympic game. Everyone on the ice was giving 100%. It seemed really pure. No crap, I mean. Except for the bitching at the end. I don’t get to watch a lot of sports on TV, but my work involves thoroughbred horse racing so I get a full dose of the sports of kings. And we do get to see some Lacrosse games in Buffalo and Toronto (our niece’s husband plays for the Buffalo Bandits). Living near the border kind of gives us the best of both worlds, but without the sun in the winter.

      • I envy your aunt and uncle. I’ve worked in this business since 1974 (and always work on Derby Day), and when I had a chance to go to the Derby my boss flat out said no. My friend was the head of all security at Churchill Downs for the Derby and was going to give me the run of the place. I never forgave the boss. I did get to the Breeder’s Cup when it was at Woodbine in Toronto, however, and it was a thrill. I have to add that after my third year at the job I again wound up with no money in the bank. I stopped betting on the horses. It was either that or lose my wife. Speaking of wives, mine (Michelle at Silk Purse Productions) is acting a little jealous. She said this morning, “Wow! Rutabaga and you are still chatting?” You would appreciate that more if you could see her right eyebrow arching like a tom cat’s back as it was dodging someone’s shoe. Happy New Year!

      • This is me giggling. Michelle was joking. She actually encourages me to write but up until now, I have done very little. I have to admit, though, you have helped give me the impetus to get back to it. I quit writing about 10 years ago, because I like humor and human interest. The publication I was writing for decided it wanted nothing but the facts. And that was that. Now, a lot of ideas are zipping along with (or riding) the neurons. Did you know they run front front to back and not side to side? (My own observation after taking perhaps a little too much of a natural sleep aid that has since been banned in Canada [L-Tryptophan) and watching millions of tiny lights buzzing back and forth in my head).

      • Glad I could help – It’s my witty rejoinders, eh? Or my hatred of football?

        Facts smacts, you can use facts to prove anything even remotely true …
        (2nd favorite Homer quote)

        Humour (you forgot the extra Canadian “U”, man) and human is much more interesting and can contain 14% actual factoid. I’ve seen it happen.

        Keep writing – it’s much fun –

        I’ll watch my neurons first chance I get ~

        Happy New Year.

    • Perhaps you’d like a quick trip to Tucson, Arizona, M. You don’t have snow to shovel there. And if you golfed, you could do it all winter! And Rutabaga says there are casinos. Woggins

  2. Nice to meet you fellow Canadian and I agree with you also on the flag and patriotism. I also prefer their anthem. Health care is definitely better here though. Imagine the cost of having a baby in the U.S.? Suffice it to say, I’d probably only have one (and we’d have to save like hell for that one) than the 3 I have now). I’ve never set foot in a casino…I’m afraid to. I don’t have very good self control and I’d be afraid of losing the house, car and kids. 🙂

    • Hi Wendy, Thank you for reading my blog! Your comments are appreciated. Health care certainly is better here. And don’t worry about not seeeing a casino. All smoke and mirrors and you are not really missing anything. If you did visit one, you might wind up missing your cash, and possibly your house, kids and car. I haven’t been in one for about three years but when I was frequenting the tables, all I cared about was gambling (1) and eating (2). (The Mirage in Vegas has a Carnegie Deli where the food is pretty much identical to that of the mother ship in New York City, but the NYC deli has all the character. But who cares. I really love Pastrami.) Happy New Year!

  3. Good to read valid insight comparing American and Ontario casino customer experience from someone who actually has been to both unlike the “decision makers” at OLG and Queen’s Park that have usually NEVER participated as PAYING CUSTOMERS! Ontaio business and government is vacuous in terms of vision. They need an identity and fast.Look forward to more from woggins! for

    • Thanks Lorne. Appreciate your response and validation. Vacuous is a great descriptor for the decision makers. BTW, Bob Topley was asking about you the other day. I will send you his e-mail and/or phone number if you like.

  4. I just got back from AZ. I was encouraged to buy a place in a trailer park near Mesa but declined. It poured rain the first 3 days I was there. The desert was beautiful but that redneck gun thing worries me. The day after the massacre in Connecticut there were sandwich board salesmen in Mesa, waving their handgun posters while they danced around on the street corners. Did you know that Arizona has an official state gun (like we have birds and flowers). Yep. It’s the Colt’ 45. And one gun shooting range we drove by proudly displayed signs that you could try their machine guns. 55 children per week are killed by guns in the US.
    We could stand to learn a few things from them. I do have to say that I experienced better customer service there in comparison to Canada….everywhere from flea markets to restaurants. It’s no wonder Americans feel a little snubbed when they come here. And my God Arizona had beautiful highways. I guess it’s a lot easier when you don’t have snow, also sand and gravel are abundant. And man when the sun did shine it was glorious.

    • Judi Judi Judi…You little globetrotter you. Arizona isn’t the only place where the NRA rules. And I guess it can be scary. especially in the light of the Newtown massacre. Some of the best times I had in high school were when I was out shooting with the rifle club. It was the one thing that I was very good at. But shooting a person, let alone a child, is something else altogether.

      I haven’t been to Arizona for many years but I sure loved it back then. I think it must be a little like Vegas -you don’t often have to wash your car. And you are right about the service. Did you get out to the painted desert?

  5. Happy New Year “He Who”…I could go on & on about what has been said, I’ve lived a good part of my life in the USA ( Phoenix, Houston, etc., etc.) and you have it right. The only thing that Canada has in its favour is free healthcare if you are sitting in a rocking chair in Winnipeg. If you live in better locations like Langley B.C. or Fort Erie you would likely have a totally different view but that is the beauty of freedom of thought. Healthcare in Wpg compared to B.C. & Ontario just doesn’t compare overall. Being married to a healthcare professional in one of the world’s best hospital systems in the USA makes it tough not to side with our southern counterparts, yes care can be costly if you don’t have the proper coverage and need that specialized care. I know first hand.
    Casinos in Canada seem to lack, just as you said…a poor public image…lacking that friendly feeling. Winnipeg casinos just this past week started serving liquor while gambling…gad how long did that take…25 years?? They also now have hot dog carts being pushed throughout the gaming areas so as to compliment the liquor being served & likely the reason why the liquor is now being served. Previously you could consume liquor in dining areas with the exception of the horse racing simulcast area which is not considered part of the casino base, but is rather an area that is complimentary to the horse racing industry…What a screwed up system!
    Nice to see your blog.

    • Happy New Year to you too, Lyle. When you lived in the U.S. did you run a business? I was wondering what the differences might have been as a entrepreneur in the U.S. as opposed to Canada. Is the liquor being served in the Winnipeg casinos free to the gamblers or do they have to pay for it? In Ontario, you can order it and drink it at your black jack table, but you have to pay through the nose. Strangely enough, I’ve seen more people make stupid mistakes with serious money at the tables in Niagara Falls Ontario than in the States where the booze is free. Perhaps I just didn’t see it…because the American casinos usually have more tables in more sections of the venue. I tended to pick quiet spots with higher limits where transients were less likely to drop in for one hand and leave. Say hi to my Winnipeg friends (if you can find some) and thank you for reading my blog and for your input! Much appreciated.

      • Yes I worked in the trucking business, had a big contract that paid big bucks but had a lot of headaches, one being I was in 53% tax bracket…yes 53% plus state taxes on top of that. 45% income tax then 8% for self employment tax = 53%.
        There is also a voluntary personnal property tax that comes from any business location based on rent or owned value & tax on equipment such as vehiches, machinery, office equipment & supplies. Yes this tax is voluntary but if you don’t report it you can be in big trouble plus you would be assessed penalties. I could write a book on this subject as I found some major abuses in the system, but I don’t know if they were ever addressed by the IRS, Texas Att. General, Harris County Tax District…big time, big $ abuses. The system as I said was voluntary & I would guess that 33% or more taxpayers don’t report at all or under estimate the values of their assets resulting in millions to billions of lost state revenues.
        As for health care costs my wife worked for the healthcare system & she paid less than $400 a month for both of us including life insurance. I also worked part time for Lowe’s & full time employees paid about $300. a month ea but I don’t know what the deductibles were. Our insurance had low deductables as we paid about $7K on my bills that totalled $750K (3/4 Mil). Remember too that most jobs at places likes Lowe’s, Home Depot and large grocery stores like Kroger’s pay around $11. Hour…in fact Kroger’s wages start around $7 and don’t get much more than $10. as there are no unions that I am aware of, at least in Texas. Texas is a right to work state where they can terminate without notice or for basically any reason at all.
        As for Wpg casino liquor prices…Vodka & coke…$8.50
        Yes the US needs healthcare but the only way they can afford it is to initiate the GST/HST format…especially when they have close to 20 million people who don’t file tax returns and a large portion of those don’t pay any taxes at all.
        One last note is that a lot of Americans do not have healthcare because of the cost thus they are lacking regular health check ups. Also the healthcare hospital system is supposed to accept anyone even if they have no financial means. The hospitals supposedly must allow 25% of their revenues to cover the freebies.
        Happy New Year

  6. Hi. I love your blog. I think it’s to the mark. Our Ontario government has got to be the stupidest government in the world. Not only did they unload 50,000 jobs, they put in HST and they charge us more for gas and oil than in the U.S. They should get an award for being stupid, because the horse industry was attached to the farms with supplying feed. Now they want to replace that with gambling casinos and welfare! I wonder which ignoramuses they got their advice from. I guess the Americans are right – we live in a communist country – since we pay taxes but we don’t get to vote on the issues. We have a great country. We just don’t have anybody that knows how to run it and do math.

    • Hi Larry. Thank you for reading and responding to the blog! Boy. I though I was hard on the local government. The Americans have always said Canada was a Socialist country
      because of the health care system. But you hit the nail on the head. We don’t get to vote on the issues. Sure, we elect politicians to run the country and should trust them to do it right. BUT, when they make multi million dollar mistakes one after another after another…I mean aren’t they supposed to be working on behalf of the people, not theirs?
      I used to think that Brian Mulroney was the most arrogant leader we’ve ever had. In my mind he was like the original sin, but probably a lot smarter that those we have today who keep getting caught.

      Larry, you were in business on both sides of the border. Was there a difference?

  7. I have to fully agree with you on the casino differences and any other gambling that involves the government. EEgads, you cannot bet on a football game here one on one while Vegas offers such bets and that is where the money is. Anybody that plays the football and hockey lotteries here is nutso as they grab your dough and the payback is small in comparison to Vegas.

    We all love, live and learn and there is no question that there is the good and the bad offered by both countries. The U.S. election system has got to be the dumbest operation ever, Two years to get to an election while in Canada we do it in weeks, just like they do in the United Kingdom. We use an :X: in a box to mark our selection when voting and the results are normally counted and calculated by the next morning. In the U.S. they cheat, even have dead people voting and you ;do not need any Identification in many places. What garbage! Here in Canada you must prove who you are before getting a ballot…seems logical, eh!

    The U.S. has one up on us in gambling, booze stores, air travel and highways for the most part. Our government runs the booze and anytime you have government involved with anything, it is at a loss. Travel from Toronto to Florida for twice the price that is offered from Buffalo to Florida. Never take the trans-canada highway from Toronto to Winnipeg, especially in the winter. It is a disaster and life threatening at times.

    As mentioned, there is the good and the bad with both countries, but bottom line for me is “I love Canada” and count it as number one in my books. The U.S. and the U.K. run a close second.

    The budman – budder sends

    • Budder, you hardly ever agree with me, especially not “fully”. I know you’ve lived all over, including Las Vegas, so I have to believe you know what you’re talking about. Thanks for reading my feeble attempt at blogging, and for your much appreciated response.

  8. After freezing my behind off watching fireworks in BC last night, Hawaii is sounding even better than usual. And even though a Winnipeg-born man is one of my favorite (notice spelling) people on Earth, I tend to prefer American men. Something about their aggressive business practices and equally aggressive senses of humor drive me wild! By the way, I don’t worry much about gun control in Hawaii. Bikinis don’t leave too many places to pack heat. Great blog! Looking forward to more!

    • Hi Keri-Lynn, thank you for reading my blog. Hawaii does sound alluring right now, what with our snow and cold. But…health care is a huge issue, especially after being spoiled in Canada. I don’t know enough about US healthcare to really comment on it, but I just spoke with a single mother who works part time and is in school who says hers is free. Her step father, however, apparently pays $1000 per month for health insurance for himself and his wife. A friend of hers says hers is going UP $300 a month. Another guy I know who has five children had said he was paying $2500 a month. I can’t verify these figures so I am still pretty much in the dark. Since the recession began, many people on both sides of the border have become unemployed. As a recently underemployed Canadian, I have to wonder how our American friends in the same boat get by when they are seriously ill. As for your spelling, Michelle is the only one in our family who still adheres Canadian spelling. I wrote for US publications for years and learned to spell words like humor and favorite with the “U” only when I was writing for a Canadian audience. And just to let you know, sipping coffee and whale watching from my lanai while vacationing in Maui was the most beautiful, relaxing time I have ever had.

  9. Having lived in the US for five years, I still haven’t been to Vegas or Atlantic City. I must, soon. Wow, Canadian casinos suck. Good thing you’re not that far off from Vegas and the like. While you mentioned the Vegas casinos comping rooms and drinks, it’s important to add that flight tickets to Vegas are often subsidized by the casinos to encourage you to come.
    Nice post. And Happy New Year!

    • Hi! Thanks for reading my blog and for your response. We’re just a four hour flight to Vegas out of Buffalo. I’ve never had a flight subsidized but I guess I didn’t play for high enough stakes. I also learned a long time ago that you shouldn’t gamble for comps. But I don’t turn them down, either.

  10. HAPPY NEW YEAR, HE WHO. i’m just getting to this now – sigh – with all the new year’s activities and i have to say i found it to be an AMAZING read. seriously. you know, i will say this – i love canada and have visited the east coast of it MANY times. being a new yorker, that’s where my dad always took us for ‘cheap’ vacations way back when. and then later in life, i went to montreal and toronto a lot of comedy business. now, here’s the thing tho — do you think the lack of ‘free things’ in canada has to do with socialism to any degree? i only ask because i was ASTOUNDED astounded when i lived in the uk that NOTHING was free. i mean there were no fringe benefits to speak of. for example, a comedian will often get a free drink or two from the club they are working along with their pay in new york. in the uk that NEVER happened. i couldn’t believe it. then one night the club owner bought me a drink AND HE PAID FOR IT, in his own club. i’ve always felt that if you are to endure the extra hardships of owning a business that you should also get the fringe benefits like a free drink every now and again. i found this was the practice nearly every where and that a ‘staff’ drink or ‘staff’ meal was a very rare thing in scotland, whereas in new york it it the norm. anyway, very, very interesting post. i’m going to plug it on sweet mother today. much love, sm

    • Happy New Year to you too! I have never been east of Kingston, but have friends on the east coast who post pictures and descriptions. Others that have visited Newfoundland and Nova Scotia rave about the beauty. I think Canada is categorized as “Socialist” (mainly by Americans) BECAUSE of the free or in many provinces nearly free, health care. I know most of the racetracks are generous with their handouts, whether in the dining room or by way of logo-type freebies at luncheons etc etc. I’m sure other sports venues are much the same. The casinos do provide free limo service to high rollers, not to mention dinner and room comps which I have enjoyed in the distant past. The casino’s memory is short and the average punter means nothing to them. The lack of free booze in the casinos is a misguided government edict, and I rarely drink so it doesn’t mean much to me.
      I am appreciative and humbled by your comments. Thank you for the opportunity to express myself – He Who (must not be blamed).

      • bwwaaahhhhaaa, i love, ‘he who must not be blamed.’ i don’t necessarily think of canada as “socialist” i think of it as kinder to its citizens than we are with out capitalist this and capitalist that. i always look at europe and canada and also the u.s. and go…”there has to be a place of balance btwn all three that is the right place…” lord knows there’s not easy answer. but, i will say that i do like my free sh*t. loool.

  11. After reading all this, I reminded myself how happy I am to be living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the birthplace of Mediacre and the new centre of the Canadian universe (so I’m told). We even have a racetrack and a casino, paved streets and indoor plumbing…..no, wait, that’s coming next year. And, while I love all kinds of football, even the original which we call soccer, I prefer the CFL over the NFL.
    Have a great 2013 “He Who”.
    Your old high school buddy.

    • I can see you are wending your way, albeit slowly, back to your teenage roots in the true centre of the universe – Winnipeg – home of the best rye bread in the world! I have to ask, in your response you wrote about the birth of “Mediacre”. Was that a Freudian slip by yourself, media mogul that you are, or simply a typo made while typing with your right hand and setting up the next chord on the guitar with the left? You obviously don’t bet on football games or you would prefer the NFL. Are you coming east this year or has that trip been done already? Would love to see you.

      • It was a typo that must have been a subconscious Freudian slip. And here I alws prideed meself on being such a gud spellr. I don’t think I will ever live in our home town of wonderful Winnipeg again, more likely Victoria or the Okanagan Valley in B.C. if I leave Saskatoon. A trip to the exotic far east might be in the cards at some point. I’ve never been to the Maritimes and I think you have to drive through Ontario to get there don’t you? (Where’s that darn map of Canada?)

      • I doubt I would ever go back to Winnipeg, either. I do hit BC every once in a while to visit my brother in Victoria (my mother lived there until she died in ’08 – now she just sleeps there). My oldest daughter lives in Kelowna. I love both places and would be happy to wind up in one of them. What I really like is the Ferry going between Vancouver and Victoria. Always something interesting (usually musical) on the trip. Last time it was a pair of West Indies musicians playing thumb pianos. They were great! As far as driving, I would probably go through the US as far east as possible. Of course it’s not far from Buffalo to Toronto (or vice versa) for a visit.

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