By Jim Henshaw
Now and then, I wander into a casino. Since I mostly live in Canada, where wagering is government run, I don’t stay long.
That’s partly because our politically correct casinos seriously dial back the fun factor, designating where you can drink and how noisy you’re allowed to be.
In addition, there are stickers and signs all over the place reminding you that there are better ways to spend your money, you might not know when to quit and you’re marginally irresponsible just by being in the place.
But my short durations are mostly because, as with all state bureaucracies, Canadian gaming locations are structured to separate you from your money as quickly as possible.
Unlike Las Vegas, you seldom see big winners in a Canadian casino. Even people walking out carrying more cash than they came in with are hard to come by.
A Vegas casino Manager once explained to me that this is because when the House regulates itself, it can decide how little it’s going to pay out based on its current needs.
And as we all know, our governments are constantly “in need.”
Plus — as our Provincial Lottery and Gaming Corporations constantly remind us, their profits fund hospitals and schools and kid’s sports, so you should actually feel good about losing.
But one thing I noticed on a recent trip to my local den of iniquity was how many of the slot machines were based on well-known TV series.
Some replicate TV game shows like “Deal or No Deal,” “Jeopardy,” or “The Price Is Right.” Apparently, “Wheel of Fortune” just became the highest earning slot machine of all time.
But there are also games using images, film clips and motifs familiar to all of us from “I Dream of Jeannie,” “The Munsters,” “Sex and The City,” “Cheers” and even “Judge Judy.” And it’s easy to see the appeal.
For most players, sitting in front of those spinning reels is not far removed from watching television. And it’s not a stretch to presume they pick those machines based on both an affection for the show and the belief that Herman Munster or Jeannie wouldn’t actually try to hurt them by taking all their money.
And of course, Judge Judy always plays fair…
But it got me wondering about the other gambling industry that Canadian governments control –- the TV business.
It’s just as risky as casino wagering, hardly anybody wins and those that do don’t usually walk out the door with much. And in some locales, lottery profits even find their way into production budgets.
So why aren’t Canadian shows on Canadian casino slot machines? Is their no quota on Cancon there? Given how much money these places vacuum from Canadian pockets, shouldn’t there be?
Has J-P Blais not looked into this? Isn’t there a casino in Gatineau not far from the very offices of the CRTC?
A few years back, I put up a post about all the money our Lottery corporations were paying out in royalties to US studios so that they could issue scratch and sniff tickets based on well known movies.
Does anyone know how much MORE money is leaving Canada so the nice folks from the care home can be bussed in to turn over their pension cheques to “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “CSI: Miami”?
Couldn’t those royalties be going to CBC or CTV to be recycled into new Canadian shows?
Why not a slot based on “The National” where Peter Mansbridge simultaneously charms or lulls people into plugging in quarters to cover his six-figure stipend as well as re-open some foreign news offices?
If people don’t think the kids from “Happy Days” are out to empty their wallets, wouldn’t they feel the same about the folks from “Corner Gas”?
And who better to set off those flashing lights than the gang from “Flashpoint” or those wacky “Trailer Park Boys”?
Casinos could even appeal to regional sentiments by featuring a local show. I mean, “The Republic of Doyle” could be bringing money to The Rock forever.
Everybody wants to know how we’re going to finance TV shows once most of us cut the cord and turn to Netflix. And this is the perfect solution.
Less government money going to Hollywood and a new way for Canadians to give their nickels to home-grown talent instead of routing it through Mr. Rogers and Mr. Shaw first.
First published on The Legion of Decency