Ding Ding Ding! Sentinel's Answer to Recession: Get Rich Playing Slots

Technical problems shut down this blog all morning, so I'm late with this post. Sorry about that, especially if you took the time to comment and couldn't get through.

The Sun-Sentinel front page is dominated by a picture of a giant Wheel of Fortune slot machine and the headline: "WHO WANTS TO BE A SLOTS MILLIONAIRE?"

The lead: "Sure, you'll take a $200,000 slot jackpot. But how does $1 million sound? Or $2 million? That kind of money will be within reach once new state gambling laws take effect."

Then comes the lead quote from Gulfstream Park VP Steve Calabro: "If you're working for a living, trying to pay bills, and $2 million comes your way, then your life is certainly going to be quite different."

Then the pullout quote on the jump page: "One big hit is exciting and can make up for smaller losses. That's why they play."

Look, I'm not against the new law, and I'm rooting for Broward's pari-mutuels to overcome the many unfair advantages the Seminoles have (like the table game monopoly at the moment). Broward's future could depend on it at this point. But this isn't journalism. It's a giant ad for the industry blanketed across the front page. The marketing departments at Mardi Gras couldn't have done better.

Just for the sake of reality, let's remember that Broward pari-mutuel payout rates are among the lowest in the nation -- 91 or 92 percent -- because of the hefty taxes they are forced to pay to the state. I don't know the odds of walking away with a seven-figure take, but you can bet it's astronomical, on par with the worst gamble there is, the state lottery (which the Sentinel also irresponsibly glamorizes with its promise of riches). The state demands a minimum of an 85 percent payout.

That said, the Seminole Hard Rock has no such regulations; they don't have to report their payout rate, so you really don't know what you're getting at all.  

-- Rejoice, downtrodden Sun-Sentinel employees. Your bankrupt mama, Tribune Co., has found as much as $66.7 million to fund bonuses! Oh... wait... those are for corporate managers. Sorry. But Miami Herald parent McClatchy really has reason to celebrate. It DOUBLED its profit! Oh wait... revenues were down 25 percent. So the money it made was due to stripping the company down and laying off employees. Congratulations?

--  In Kathy Bushouse's School Board budget story, Member Maureen Dinnen calls the board's dire straits a "disgrace" and says the board has never seen its budget "cut into ribbons before." Earth to Dinnen, Earth to Dinnen, YOU are the School Board chairwoman. You oversaw a lot of this mess and did nothing to bring sanity to school spending. YOU are responsible. And YOU are part of the problem. Sorry, but someone has to break the news to her.  

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