It’s nice to see Illinois, the state the word “corruption” visits when it wants to unwind and not feel like it’s being judged, pursue a dream of fiscal solvency by leveraging two historically incorruptible businesses: gambling and selling weed.
State legislators have voted to legalize marijuana starting in January and also approved a gambling expansion bill that will give Illinois more casinos, including one in Chicago. The gambling bill legalizes sports betting, which is something that has never been a problem in the Chicago area. (You’re not allowed to reference the 1919 Chicago White Sox because the statute of limitations has passed. That’s not my rule — it’s in the Constitution.)
Gov. J.B. “Roll That Spliff, Roll Those Dice” Pritzker is expected to sign the bills into law.
Clearly, this is all good news for Illinoisans and no reasonable person or incarcerated former governor(s) would suggest anything could possibly go wrong.
Our focus now needs to be on finding ways to maximize the state’s revenue-generating potential. And it just so happens that in the months leading up to my longitudinal study on the impact of marijuana legalization on a 48-year-old newspaper columnist, I have time to assist Chicago and the state of Illinois with some ideas that will make our pot/gambling/tourism allure shine.
The first step, of course, is to make sure all the casinos sell marijuana. Smokable, edible, rub-it-on-your-skin-able, drinkable, chewable, whatever. Instead of giving away free drinks to gamblers, Chicago’s new casino and others across the state should have servers carrying large hookahs filled with primo, mind-bending herbage.
This will improve revenue from traditional casino games, as it’s physically impossible for a person who is high to have a poker face, and stoned roulette players will pay just to stand there and stare at the wheel as it goes round and round and round and round and OH MAN I THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT TO STOP BUT IT’S STILL GOING! and round and round ….
There will also be an opportunity to add new games of chance tailored to gamblers who’ve run through Satan’s lettuce garden.
For example, the game “Is That Thing Blue or Kind of Greenish?” would be a huge hit. Players are allowed to stare at a piece of fabric and decide whether it’s blue or slightly green. After an hour or so of going back and forth with their friends and asking people passing by what they see, the players will wager on a color. (The house always wins. The color is actually “aqua.”)
Another big draw would involve a casino employee leaning against a table and repeatedly making eye contact with each player. The game would be called “Holy S$&T, Is That Dude a Cop?” and players would place their chips on one of three circles labeled: “Dude is TOTALLY a cop!”; “Nah, that’s just some dude”; and “Dude, it’s legal, we don’t even need to worry about it. Chill.”
Later in the evening, once the hookahs have been circulated a sufficient number of times, the gambling tables will be removed and replaced with tall, felt-covered boards. Stapled to the top of each board will be a large bag of Fritos. Players will bid on the bag of Fritos and whoever bids the most will get the bag of Fritos. The game will be called, “I’d Give, Like, a Million Dollars for a Bag of Fritos Right Now, You Know What I Mean?”
To integrate some of Chicago’s most famous tourist attractions into the marijuana tourism plan, I propose some minor rebranding.
Cloud Gate in Millennium Park can become an attraction called “You’re Not Gonna Believe the Size of This F&$%ing Bean!” with an adjacent gift shop called “SEE! DIDN’T I TELL YOU?!? THAT’S A F&$%ING GIANT BEAN, RIGHT??”
Navy Pier can be called “Snack Heaven With Boats” and the Ferris wheel’s name can switch from Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier to “Are We Stuck? Why Aren’t We Moving? Oh God, Dude, If We’re Stuck Up Here I Am SO Going to Freak Oh Never Mind We’re Moving Again.”
The Magnificent Mile can still be called “The Magnificent Mile,” because that sounds epic.
Trust me, I’m sitting on a mountain of ideas like these, so if you work for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce or the Illinois Office of Tourism or if you’re a business owner over at Snack Heaven With Boats, reach out and I will gladly help you.
Just make sure you do it before Jan. 1. That’s the day my longitudinal research study begins, so I’ll probably be at one of the state’s totally aboveboard casinos betting everything on “Dude is TOTALLY a cop!”