Guest Rambles from Kansas City

My friend Nabeel works with money professionally, making software for financial types. So it’s no surprise that when he went to Kansas City on a business trip that he ended up in a casino. Casinos in Kansas City? you may ask. But keep in mind that, although gambling used to be considered a vice, we like it now. Plus, Kansas City is no stranger to gambling. It was a wild place back in the Depression, when Tom Pendergast single-handedly ran the whole debauch. Despite the Prohibition, there was no shortage of booze or gambling. Pendergast’s power was such that he was able to name his man for the Senate in 1934: a former Kansas City haberdasher named Harry Truman.

Anyway, I asked Nabeel to fill me in on the dang deal in Kansas City, and this is what he said.

There’s a lot to do in Kansas City. Well, not really. But now you can gamble. There are probably lots of stories about riverboat gambling, but that’s all long gone now. The casinos I saw were built on solid ground, no need to be on the water to gamble. There may be riverboat casinos left, but the Isle of Capri (where I went) was on dry land.

What makes them interesting, however, is one of their rules (I believe it’s a legal requirement for casinos in Kansas and Missouri). To enter the casino floor, you must get a player’s card for the casino. Why? Whenever you exchange real money for chips, they take your player’s card and swipe it through their machine, recording the amount you’re trying to get. You are limited to exchanging no more than $500 in 3 hours; they won’t let you exchange more than that. Essentially, this caps your losses.

This gives casinos in Kansas a totally different feel than anywhere else. There are no “high-rollers” areas — if you can’t get more than $500 cash in 3 hours, you really can’t bet too big. Most tables I saw were $5 tables. This simple policy really changes the feel of being in the casino; it’s a lot less stressful.

Of course, they still end up with your money :)