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Reputedly serious news organizations are claiming that Stephen Paddock made a living playing video poker. That’s like claiming someone made a living smoking crack.
NBC News reports, with a straight face: “Las Vegas gunman earned millions as a gambler.“ A Los Angeles Times article is headlined, “In the solitary world of video poker, Stephen Paddock knew how to win.” The story says that Paddock’s gambling “was at least a steady income over a period of years.”
How do reporters imagine casino owners make a living? Any ideas on how all those glorious lobbies, lights, pools and fountains are paid for? How do they think Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn became billionaires if gambling is a winning proposition for people like Paddock – and therefore a losing proposition for the casinos?
The New York Times explained that the “top” video poker machines pay out 99.17 percent. It’s great that Paddock was only losing cents on the dollar, if true, but it’s still losing. The Times quickly explained that he could have more than made up his losses with all the “comps” – the free rooms, meals and “50-year-old port that costs $500 a glass,” as his brother Eric said.
Gamblers beating the house are not given $500 glasses of port. Refer to the profit/loss spreadsheet. And yet according to his brother Paddock was treated like royalty by the casinos. Which means he was losing.
Paddock’s game of choice was VIDEO POKER. That’s a computer programmed to ensure the house wins. Not all the time, but at least often enough to make casino owners multibillionaires. Anyone who plays video poker over an extended period of time will, by basic logic, eventually end up a net loser.
So why are the media insistent that Paddock was getting rich by playing video poker?
The most likely explanation is that the reporters and investigators are incompetent nitwits. But the changing accounts from law enforcement and preposterous lies from the press aren’t doing a lot to tamp down alternative theories of the crime.
Among the questions not being asked by our wildly incurious media:
And the illicit business that requires money to be laundered that leaps out at us in Paddock’s case is illegal gun sales. If true, it would not only explain the arsenal in his hotel room, but also raises the possibility of either an accomplice or different perpetrators altogether.
If this were a movie script, a man would go to Paddock’s room on the pretense of buying guns, kill Paddock, commit the massacre, put his gunshot residue-covered gloves on Paddock’s dead hands and slip out of the room when the coast was clear.
According to the new timeline given by the Las Vegas police–pending a third revision – this is at least possible. The hallway was empty, except for a bleeding security guard down by the elevators, for at least two minutes after the shooting stopped. The stairwell was clear for more than half an hour. It also explains the gloves.
There’s no evidence for any of this but on the other hand there’s no evidence for the version the media are giving us. At least the movie script version doesn’t require us to pretend that Paddock was making “millions” from video poker.