I would like to relate my experience yesterday in what has to be the worst casino ever.EDIT: The statement below has nothing to do with our WoV Member, Face, who is an excellent guy!
Like an awful casino should, this one has a, "Face," if you will. An iconic mascot instantly recognized by millions of patrons and would-be patrons the country over:EDIT: The statement above has nothing to do with our WoV Member, Face, who is an excellent guy!
Here comes the argument, "Mission146, are you out of your mind? Chuck-E-Cheese is not a casino!"
I know, Chuck E Cheese is a family-friendly environment (my son and I went together) in which mediocre (being generous) food is served at a fairly reasonable price.Argument that Chuck E Cheese IS a Casino
If anyone has ever been to a Chuck E Cheese, then one notices that there are games that require tokens, for which you pay money. You will use these tokens on said games to win tickets, which then can be redeemed at the gift area for prizes. However, it is also possible to simply, "Buy tickets," which I put in quotation marks because you don't actually get the tickets, just the ticket value. Tickets come at a cost of $0.01/ticket, on direct.
Each game is one token, and how much one pays for a token depends on how many tokens one buys at a time, and whether or not one has a coupon. Coupons/Discounts for big token buys are the equivalent of Match Play coupons, which are a typical advertising form used by casinos.
As mentioned, you can use the tokens to play games to win tickets. Many of these games have results that will pay more tickets that the equivalent number of pennies used to play the games, while some results will not. One difference between Chuck E Cheese and a casino is that some games do not involve tickets in anyway whatsoever.
In this sense, every token is a bet.
Further, all of these bets have potential returns that may or may not be more than the equivalent number of pennies. Also, much like a casino, some of the games are games of pure chance while others are games of skill in which the ET (Expected Tickets) will vary based upon one's skill level.
...or do they?
Now, the five reasons that Chuck E Cheese is the worst casino ever:1.) Bait & Switch
There have historically been many casino promotions documented in which the House changed the terms of the promotion due to finding themselves at a huge disadvantage. While a good few of these promotions have been Blackjack-related, there have been others. Arguments can be made as to the legitimacy of such a switch, usually the fine print allows it, but from a moralistic standpoint...
Should the casino knowingly take a shellacking by eating it on the promises made in a bad (for them) promotion, or should the casino not have the responsibility for doing the math work before throwing out something that some Marketing Director, who probably hasn't even seen an algebraic equation since his Junior year of college, came up with off of the top of his head.
The casino should have that responsibility, and then by acting in a responsible way, they can offer promotions that are honest and can be carried through for the appointed time.
Chuck E Cheese is worse than a casino in this regard because they offer promotions that are still financially advantageous for them, (selling food at a fraction of what it actually costs them) but still fail to honor those promotions.
I went on-line and obtained a coupon that was to expire on 7/2013 for a $19.99 large pizza, two soft drinks (with all of those kids running around, I'd have preferred a hard one) and 40 tokens. Breaking it down, that's basically $10 worth of tokens and a large pizza/two pops for $9.99. It's a good deal, they still make money, everyone is happy.
We arrive at Chuck E Cheese and had to park in a different parking area of the shopping plaza...which is always a bad sign of things to come. I tried to convince my son to go to, "That nice Chinese place," because I knew things were going to go downhill in a real hurry. I was hungry, and therefore, desperate. I didn't exactly lie in my description of the Chinese place, it's just that I had no idea whether or not it was actually, "Nice," as I had never been there...
He was not having that.
We walked into an absolute madhouse. I don't know if all locations are like this, but all parties are paired together with a stamp with a number, ours may have been, "666," that can only be seen under a special light. The numbers must match when you leave or you are an attempted kidnapper. I'm all for that, of course!
Anyway, this place exceeded building occupancy hours before, it must have, you could hardly see anything in the place with all of the people in there. The manager (assuming) came over and told the girl, "Only people buying food, now, we're too busy." The girl then asked if we were buying food, and I replied in the affirmative. Good thing we didn't go to the Chinese place, or no Chuck E Cheese for us. Good call, son!
Long story short, we went to the order station where I was told that my coupon was expired. I informed the young lady that she may want to check the calendar, because I did not believe we were in 2014 already. She then stated that the particular coupon was not offered at that location, then she picked up a coupon sitting on the register in plain sight
for $19.99 Medium Pizza, Two Drinks, 25 Tokens, and said in a conspiratorial tone, "...but I can let you use this one."
Cool, I'm getting shanked for a pizza size and fifteen tokens ($3.75), your generosity knows no bounds.
I'm guessing that coupon is not accepted anywhere, as no locations are, "Participating locations."
Promises Made, Promises Broken.2.) Rigged Games
With how packed the place was, there were basically two types of games, those that were available and those that were not available. In other words, games that sucked and games that didn't suck.
The games that sucked generally involved sticking a token down a chute and seeing how many tokens it knocked down, which were then translated into tickets after being significantly miscounted to the player's detriment. Alternatively, one could put a token in a game and spin some wheel or another which would proceed to one of the worst results possible.
Focusing on the latter type of game, I smelled an AP opportunity as there were games that offered prizes of over 25 tickets. One such game involved manually spinning a wheel which would then land with the arrow on a result...similar to the big wheel, only you get to play the dealer.
It didn't matter.
My son spun it first and ended up with a result of 1 ticket, which occupied a very small spot both above and below the, "100 tickets," spot. He played another token and spun again, same result. I played a token and spun for the same result. Keep in mind that there were multiple prizes occupying space equal to the, "100 tickets," space, as low as 2 tickets. I played one more and spun it in such a fashion that it should have landed on the opposite side of the wheel, no difference, one ticket.
We proceeded to a gorilla game in which you grabbed handles and shook with all of your power and tickets were dispensed, allegedly, according to how strong the player was. The handles would vibrate and the gorilla would blow what smelled like really stale cigarette smoke halfway through the game...right at you. I don't know if you've ever been to one of those low-class diners with the blue-haired woman inevitably named Sue puffing on an unfiltered Pall Mall who leans over (while blowing smoke in your face) and asking, "What'll it be, sug?" This game smelled like that lady.
Anyway, we each played it and achieved 3000 points which were good for five tickets. We each got exactly
3000 points. The problem with that is the assumption that I am no more or less physically powerful than my four-year old son, on whom I've got about 150 pounds...
If you perform too well in a casino game, by card-counting, for example, they will occasionally back you off. Chuck E Cheese is no different.3.)Getting, "Backed Off"
Perhaps the line was drawn when I got my tire iron out of the car, brought it in, and proceeded to beat all Hell out of that gorilla.
I'm kidding, we did not get backed off from the establishment, or even a game, but from our table.
We were in the process of eating the food, that actually came out in a reasonable amount of time given how busy they were...they must have multiple microwaves...and a young waitress came over and asked, "Are you going to be done with this table soon? People are waiting for tables."
My four-year old was actively chewing at the time, four pieces of regular pizza remained, and our apple dessert pizza was untouched.
I replied, "Yes, absolutely. Please clear away all of this uneaten food, and if it would be convenient for you, just go ahead and take what the boy is chewing out of his mouth. I will warn you, though, he may bite when he feels threatened."
She stopped over about three minutes later saying, "I know, but do you have some kind of guess as to how long you will be?"
We were ready for the table to be cleared a few minutes later, so I went over to the young lady and said, "Thank you for your exemplary customer service, and as a token of my appreciation for the care with which you provided same to us, I would like to offer this to you."
I stuck out my closed fist, she stuck out her hand, into which I dropped a penny.
"You can buy a ticket with that, if you are interested."
She said, "I'm sorry, really I am. I don't like to hassle people, my manager keeps making me go around and ask everyone."
I responded, "Well, that sucks and I'm sorry about my joke. If you would point her out, and I can have my penny back, I'll go give it to her."
I felt bad for being a sarcastic jackass, so I took out my wallet and gave her a five.
If Chuck E Cheese cannot yet be considered a casino, given the wagers for tickets, rigged games, and getting backed off, then perhaps it is an on-line casino, like BetFred, full of games that outright cheat!4.) Cheating Games
How can a game cheat?
Let's look at a football-throwing game designed for older children and adults, a game of skill. If you throw in the top hole, you get 50 points, and it increases by 10 for every successful throw in the last fifteen seconds. If you throw in the middle, 30 points, bottom, 20 points.
Fortunately, the top hole was almost exactly in-line with my release point, because I'm fairly tall. It was basically the equivalent of floating a pass over the defensive line and to my receiver running a slant route over the middle, and there was no blitz! There was pressure, though, a two-minute timer that counted off three seconds for every one actual second. Good thing time is relative, or that would be cheating in itself.
This game had a Progressive Jackpot. If you achieved, "Hall of Fame," level you got 120 Tickets, and it increased by two tickets for every token wagered on any unsuccessful HoF attempt. To add to the difficulty, I actually stood a step or two back from right against the machine and had my son pitching me the balls from where they came out.
The first time I played, I scored 680 total points and looked down to see the HoF level was 690 points and now 122 tickets.
Playtime is over.
I asked my son to stand aside and decided to get really serious about beating the 690 points. It still said 690, it said 690 after I put the token in, it said 690 as the game counted down to the starting whistle...
I scored 970 points, HoF level was now 1010, and I got tickets for the second-highest tier.
That's when I shouted, "YOU F***ING LIAR," at the machine, pulled out my .22 and pumped that S.O.B. full of lead!!!
Okay, I didn't. My son smiled at me and said, "Dad, you won ten tickets again, you are awesome!" Crap, how could I be angry with the machine? It made the kid happy.
It's important to remember that all of these games, even when fair, have a huge House Edge built-in.5.) House Edge
Some of the games cost a token, with a best possible result of less than 25 tickets, need I say more? How about Skee Ball? One token, score 42000-45000 (you'd have to be a God) and get fifteen tickets!Conclusion
I ended up buying twenty additional tokens for $5.00, and we had a great time, overall. We ended up playing a total of 45 tokens, (with ten games in which tickets were in no way involved) and got a return of 133 tickets. IOW, $8.75 bet with a $1.33 return or 15.2% return.
The pizza could have been worse. It was basically the same as Domino's Pizza before they changed the crust and minus all of the puddles of grease on top. The tables had Parmesan, Pepper, Salt and Crushed Pepper on them, which were necessary if you wanted the pizza to taste like anything.
You can do worse than a pizza that tastes like nothing, though. I've been to a number of pizza places in which they went to great lengths to make their pizza taste like something, and it was a huge mistake.
The dessert pizza was quite good.
Inevitably, my son wanted a prize that cost more than the total of the tickets we won. That's no surprise. If I'd have asked what 133 tickets would get me, "Shown to the door," would have likely been the response. I will say that their toys/candy/games for sale/tickets are all priced completely within reason, though. Even the logo stuff. My son got a Chuck E Cheese hat for $8.99 and some weird kaleidoscope candy dispenser for $5.99.
FUNNY MOMENTS OF THE DAY:
1.) My son went into the tubes and I grabbed his shoes when he came out to put them back on, except they were the wrong shoes. Same exact shoes, but two sizes two small. I returned them and retrieved the right shoes before anyone noticed.
2.) Some little kid in the birthday party section decided Chuck E Cheese (dude in costume) was hungry, and shoved a piece of pizza in his face. No wonder they don't accept the good coupons, it's going to cost a pretty penny to get the sauce out of that costume.
Vultures can't be choosers.