On Thursday I was running errands for old people and one of those errands took me to Holdenville. “Awesome!” was my thought, “They’ve got $10 match play today at the Holdenville casino.”

But by the time I got to the casino, I was very short on time. No worries; $20 in wagers doesn’t take long. So down I sat at an Invaders From The Planet Moolah game.

I’d played a couple of bucks when the screen went insane — the middle three columns were all (or mostly) wilds. The “Big Win” siren went off and the line pay was $32. Sweet!

And then it was time for the winning tiles to clear and the cascade to happen. All three middle columns came in wild AGAIN and the Big Win siren was wailing again too. This time it was a bit less than $30, but I wasn’t complaining.

Right then my phone rang with errands-related stuff. Now I was officially in a hurry to finish up and get out of there. So I doubled my bet.

And kept winning, in smaller ways. By the time I’d earned my promo play, I was up about $80 in total. $10 dollars in promo? Let’s do 11 spins at ninety cents a spin and get out of here.

A profitable choice. I got two more nice little hits in those 11 spins, and wound up cashing a ticket for almost $120. Total time in the casino: less than 15 minutes.

Gambling tempo has been very low and slow lately, due to a bunch of eldercare obligations that had Pixie spending too much time in hospitals until she stressed herself into an ugly little case of pneumonia. She’s better now, but respiratory infections and smoky casinos do not mix! So we’ve been staying close to home.

Still, today she was feeling better and going a bit stir crazy, so I offered to take her out for a drive. And when she saw the sign for the I-40 Seminole casino, she was all “Their new space has high ceilings, it’s not so smokey, it’s not a horrid pit of foul smoke and no air like the Wewoka Trading Post…” And of course today is the Wednesday $10-for-$20 promotion (what we not-so-fondly call “half-assed match play”. Yes, we grumble, but advantage is advantage, and ya gotta take it where you find it.) So, in we went.

I cannot complain. I played my thirty dollars worth of wagers (twenty of mine and ten of theirs) at forty cents a spin on their sole Zeus II machine — a 40-line “Red Hot Respin” machine that just wasn’t talking to me today. Down twenty bucks, I wasn’t quite ready to quit, so I moved to an older “Zeus” machine nearby (a 30-line model with no “Red Hot Respin” bonus feature).

Fifth spin or so, I got this:

Happy days — that’s a $60 screen right there. My work here is done.

Went and found Pixie, she was talking to the Fairy Blossom machine but not done with it yet. So I cashed my ticket and took a couple of bucks of my winnings into the convenience store for candy. On the way I noticed that (yay!) my beloved Penny Poker machines had finally been installed in the breezeway area leading to the old casino space that’s currently closed. I’ll look forward to playing them, next visit.

When I got back to Pixie, she was just chortling at three treasure chests (the bonus symbol for Fairy Blossom) that had just landed. She was playing at 80 cents a spin, so I stayed to watch; those bonuses can be substantial. And sure enough, she ended up with a total of 30 free spins, two of which hit very big indeed; her final total from the bonus exceeded $150.

As we do, we took our winnings and ran home, chortling all the way. It doesn’t take a lot to make us happy…

It is the editorial position here at Okie Gamblers that when Oklahoma casinos fail to honor their advertised match play, we should do our best to publicize that behavior. The only way to incentivize casinos to behave better is to call them out when they deal unfairly.

This is from the advertising placard for the October promotions at the Holdenville Creek Nation Casino (one of our favorites):

That’s an unequivocal offer for $10 match play for ladies on Wednesdays in October.

So, on Wednesday October 31 we stopped in. I went to talk to the Silver Swords machine while Pixie went to put her $10 in the Skee-Ball game.

She played her $10. The little blue coins did not light up.

She went to the promotions desk. They said “No, it’s Halloween, no Ladies Day match play today. The Halloween promotions are drawings, it’s on the sign.”

Here’s what the advertising placard says about the Halloween promotion:

You could deduce from that — I guess — that the Halloween drawings might replace the (less generous) Ladies Day drawings scheduled for the same day. Although I have been to plenty of other casinos that have special drawings going on simultaneously with their regularly scheduled weekly promotions. In any case, we weren’t there for the drawings, and we weren’t expecting both sets to be happening.

However, there’s nothing about that Halloween advertising that hints or suggests that the Ladies Day match play would not be offered as advertised.

So once Pixie learned she wouldn’t be getting her promotional play, she was DONE. I imagine she’ll get over it eventually, but she hasn’t yet. And she didn’t have any interest in playing through the thirty or forty bucks we usually put at risk when we go there. So I cashed out my winnings of the moment (about $20) and we got the heck out of there.

Insult to injury: Holdenville doesn’t have a ticket-cashing machine, so to cash my ticket, I went to the cashiers window (located at the very back of the casino). On the glass in front of the cashiers were a pair of very tiny (index-card-sized) signs, which said something like “No Ladies Day Match Play Today” (I’m working from memory). So somebody in casino management knew this was a problem that gamblers would want to know about, but they buried the notice at the very back of the casino, where you won’t likely see it until you are cashing out before leaving. Was there any sign on the entrance doors, or near them? We checked on our way out, but you already know the answer: there was not.

Some months back, we had our first experience of an Oklahoma casino advertising a promotion and then not honoring it. It was a $25 match play (worth driving for) and we’d driven about an hour out of our way to take advantage of it. When we arrived, it was still being advertised on the big electronic sign in the parking lot. We went in, played our $25, and WTF? The little grey stack of coins never turned blue. Right about then, the PA system went loud. Attention, attention, our advertised match play promotion has been replaced by these wonderful drawings…

We got screwed. It was the last weekend of the month, and they apparently had decided not to continue the month-long promotion to the end of the month. Instead, they wanted to start people working on earning entries for their newest drawings promotion. People who drove to play at their facility based on the advertised offer? Just out of luck.

The casinos make the rules, they are effectively unregulated (or self-regulated, which amounts to something very similar), and they all have “We reserve the right to change or alter promotions at any time” weasel words prominently posted somewhere. There isn’t a thing that we, the gambling consumers, can do about this. In legalese, there’s no available redress when we are wronged by a casino that chooses not to honor its advertised promotions.

However, it’s still sleazy and wrong and shameful. Oklahoma casinos are fundamentally rural. There is a lot of open space in Oklahoma, and people use promotions in deciding where to go and how far to drive. Gasoline is expensive and our time is valuable. If you advertise a promotion, you should honor that promotion.

Furthermore, in the event that a promotion is altered or eliminated, there should be substantial efforts made to alert the gambling public. Websites and recorded telephone messages advertising the promotion should be changed, and there should be prominent signage at the casino entrance alerting consumers to the change.

The only things we gamblers can do to “enforce” this standard is to take our gambling dollars to the casinos that play fair, honor their advertised promotions, and strive mightily to alert gamblers when an advertised promotion will not be honored for some good reason. And to do that, we need to have some way of knowing which casinos fall short of that standard. It’s our intention here at Okie Gamblers to document the shady promotional practices we experience, and we encourage our readers to email and comment regarding any such problems they have encountered.