Be A Clean, Green Shopping Machine

For many years, the economy in Australia consisted of products made by the people who lived here. Like many countries, goods and services have slowly been moving off shore due to cheaper employment and raw material costs in other countries. Today the market in Australia is flooded with products that come from all over the world. This has been great in some ways (cheap Japanese cars and out-of-season fruit, to name but a few) and the cheaper prices have made some purchases a lot easier on the pocket. In other ways it has been detrimental with local businesses being closed and a significant portion of manufacturing being moved overseas. We hear a lot about supporting local but what are the reasons for buying Australian-made compared to a (sometimes cheaper) import?
As a shopper, you might like to think of your purchases as a vote for what you consider appropriate behavior from the store you are buying from. If you think it’s reprehensible to test on animals (let’s face it, it is) then you wouldn’t buy from a store that doesn’t have a strong stance on this subject. If more people feel like you do and stop buying these types of products, the industry will listen and your ‘vote’ will help create a greener, cleaner, friendlier shopping environment – as you can see from the number of green and organic products beginning to surface today – a good sign consumers are moving in a positive direction!

After you’ve set your own moral compass for shopping you should consider adding supporting local business onto your list of requirements. If local businesses flourish, so will the local economy. Yes, buying local can cost a few extra dollars in some cases, but often the extra investment can purchase a product that’s made out of higher quality materials that will last a lot longer than their cheaper counterpart.

You may also want to consider supporting local when it comes to fruit and vegetable shopping. This will mean only buying seasonal fruit when it’s actually in season. Also, think of the cost and environmental impact of importing consumables like fruit and vegetables. If you’re buying off a local farmer, your goods have used less fuel to reach you and will often be much fresher.

Another green shopping method is buying items that are handmade. They can be more labour-intensive than mass-produced imports, but this often means they will be better quality, lasting you longer and lengthening the time before replacement is needed. This effectively reduces the cost in the long run anyway. For example, a craftsperson spends time honing their skills to make a handmade product. The process starts from ground zero and is completed with patience and practice. Only the best materials are used and a learned tradesperson has the know-how from years of experience, to create a long-wearing work of art.

Finally, try to source natural and organic products where you can. Shop for clothes that are made out of natural fabrics and beauty products that are organic and cruelty-free. Your purchasing decision will encourage slow-fashion companies that use natural, non-polluting fibers for manufacturing their clothing items. In making these choices, you can diminish the poor-quality clothes (or throwaway fashion) that are made out of synthetic fibers, which are bad for the environment and your health.

The same goes for beauty products. There are many local companies that manufacture organic, eco-friendly, and cruelty-free products, which are much better than the ones that are mass-produced and contain a wide range of chemical and toxic components. Organic products are great for your skin and body, are entirely safe to use from all points of view, and are not tested on animals, which means that they don’t have to suffer in the name of biped beauty. With this information in mind, we encourage you to go forth young grasshopper and become a sustainable shopper!

7 Things You Never Knew About Casinos

Americans love gambling. We spend billions of dollars every year at land-based casinos, from the high desert of Las Vegas to the riverboat casinos of the Mississippi Delta. Forty US states are home to at least one casino. Even conservative Texas has a casino within its borders.

The casino business has been booming for nearly 100 years. From its early days as a frontier distraction to the multi-billion dollar mega-businesses of today, casino gambling has enthralled Americans as long as it’s been available. But I bet you didn’t know all these cool facts about the casino business.

Read on for a fascinating look at how the betting industry really works.

1. Casinos lose money all the time
Sure, most players end up losing money. But you have to figure high cost of the property, staff, and complimentary items keep casinos from beating everyone. Of course those patrons who play very little or are accompanying real players make up a large portion of this group, but there are many players that are actually able to win over a long period of time. This group includes blackjack card counters, but the largest percentage is comprised of players who gamble just enough to qualify for freebies and complimentary giveaways like free rooms and meals.

2. They love winners
You might assume that the casino isn’t happy when someone cashes in a big jackpot. But that’s far from the truth. Think about it – do you want to play at a casino that never pays out big winnings or a casino that regularly advertises big prizes? Big wins are good for business, so don’t be surprised to see a bunch of smiles and glad-handing when the supervisor hands you a big progressive prize.

3. Card-counters are welcome … in Atlantic City
If you’re an advantage gambler of any type, you run the risk of getting kicked out of a casino in Las Vegas or most other parts of the country. Most casinos reserve the right to kick out anyone they suspect is counting cards or using other advantage techniques. But if you’re a card-counter and you want to use your skill freely, there is one place you’re welcome. Atlantic City is explicitly open to blackjack card-counters and other advantage bettors. How do they do it? They’ve adapted. For example, the rules for blackjack are altered to account for the impact of card counting tactics.

4. Think you’ve been ripped off? There’s an agency for that
Every legal casino in America is run by a regulatory agency. If you think you’ve been cheated, you can contact Gaming Control (or whatever agency runs the show where you were playing) and lodge a formal complaint. Just don’t use this service to whine about cold food or a broken elevator. Those particular complaints should be made to the casino’s manager, not to a government body meant to curtail casino cheating.

5. If you win big, you can ask for a check instead of cash or chips
This one surprised me – I’ve never seen it done before, and I’ve been in casinos plenty of times. Apparently, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a check if you have a decent-sized win. Basically, any hand-pay you get in Vegas or AC can be turned into a check, so long as you ask nicely and do it before you get your cash or chip pay-out. You can even get a combination pay-out, part in a check, part in cash, and part in chips. Remember – your casino is basically a service economy with you as its target. If you play a lot and talk sweetly to the employees, you can get pretty much whatever you want, within reason.

6. You need a current and valid photo ID on you pretty much at all times
Though some US casinos allow players in at age 18 (particularly in Alaska), the gambling age in pretty much every other US state is 21. To enforce that, the casino demands that all players have a valid photo ID on them at all time while on the floor. Don’t even try the old “Oops, I left my ID up in my room” trick. The casino can (and will) ask you to leave if you don’t have your ID on you.

7. Casinos have strict etiquette rules – including language restrictions
Contrary to the stereotype of the casino as a den of iniquity, gambling halls actually have pretty lengthy lists of rules and proper etiquette that you must follow. The quickest way to get a nasty look from your dealer or even a warning from the pit is to open your mouth and let one of those famous “four-letter words” slip out. My advice – act like you’re playing craps with your grandmother. You’ll be better off, and the other bettors around you will appreciate your kindness.

Gambling Games that Are Really Worth Trying

New gambling games are introduced on an almost daily basis in casinos around the world.

Most of these new games are slot machines, but video poker variations and other types of games are being developed also.

Here’s a quick overview of some of the newest games you should try the next time you have a chance.

Game Star Video Poker from IGT
The Game Star is a video poker machine from IGT that has 7 new games in one cabinet. You choose which game you want to play when you sit down and single hand and multi hand options are available.

Here’s a list of the seven video poker games you can play:

Stud Choice Poker
Dual Action Poker
Flush Fever Poker
Extreme X Poker
Lucky Quads Wheel poker
Look Ahead Poker
Super Look Ahead Poker
In Stud Choice Poker you get to pick from two hands and then play five, six, or seven card stud. The 5 card stud pay table is better than the 6 card, etc. When the game starts you pick between two different two card hands, and then pick the pay table you want to use. Then the rest of the cards are dealt and the hand is completed.

When you play Dual Action Poker you play a single hand of poker and can win on two different pay tables. Your best hands will be paid from both pay tables.

Flush Fever Poker has a feature where any hand resulting in four to a flush automatically redraws for an extra chance to hit. If you land four to a flush in the bonus game the hand redraws until you hit a flush for a guaranteed win.

Any time you hit a full house or better while playing Extreme X Poker you unlock the fever games and a multiplier.

Lucky Quads Poker awards a special spin of the wheel for any four of a kind or five of a kind hand.

Look Ahead Poker is a neat concept that I’m surprised took this long to find its way into a video poker game. When you bet the maximum coins you can see the next card to be dealt. This adds an interesting strategy decision to the game.

Super Look Ahead plays the same as Look Ahead Poker except you can burn the next card in the deck if you don’t like it.

Peek & Play Poker from IGT
The Peek & Play video poker game from IGT is designed to give players a greater feeling of being in control and being able to alter the outcome of the game through strategy.

While playing Peek & Play you can pay a fee, called a buy a pay feature, to peek at the next card in the deck.

The game is loosely based on the popular Jacks or Better game with the minimum paying hands being jacks or better and two pair, each paying 5 coins for a 5 coin wager. The top payout is 4,000 coins for a royal flush.

New Bally Slot Machines
Bally is one of the biggest slot machine manufacturers in the world and they keep putting out great new games. Here’s a list of some of their new slots games with a little bit of information about each.

I’m not a big slots player but I like to see the new games and designs that slots companies come up with. They need to keep designing bigger and better games to keep players interested and coming back for more.

Betty Boop’s 5th Avenue – A 5 reel 30 pay line slot machine using the popular Cash Wheel Bonus system. The game has a shopping theme and has three different jackpot possibilities.

Cash Wheel Black and White – Cash Wheel Black and White has 5 reels and 25 pay lines. This slot machine has a bonus game where you can win up to three free spins on the bonus wheel and a free games feature that gives you 12 free spins.

Dragon Spin – This machine has five reels and 30 pay lines along with five progressive jackpots and three different free game special features.

NASCAR – Cashing in on the popularity of the racing league, NASCAR features the U-Spin wheel, three bonus features, a choice of the best drivers on the circuit, five reels, and 30 pay lines.

Blazing 777 Triple X – Blazing 7’s is a throwback to the simple times in the slot machine industry. With only three pay lines and three reels this is my kind of machine. But instead of just being a plain Jane machine, it has a progressive jackpot and random multipliers of up to 5 times.

Diamonds of Dublin – The Diamonds of Dublin slot machine has three reels and a fancy green theme with shamrocks and diamonds everywhere. It has a set jackpot and the shamrock acts as a wild symbol.

Garden of Amazon – With 25 pay lines and five reels, the Garden of Amazon slot machine may sound like lots of other games but it features a free spins bonus game that can be retriggered, three different jackpots, and a 20 times multiplier bonus.

Quick Hit Wild Blue Free Games Fever – The Quick Hit Wild Blue slots game has a ton of special features. Players can unlock 10 free spins that can include two or three times multipliers and locking wild symbols. The game also has five different jackpot levels and scatter symbols.

Dollar Streak – Dollar Streak slots has five reels and 20 pay lines. This slot machine has two different progressive jackpots, great graphics, and a free games feature.

Mustang Money 2 – Including a major and minor progressive jackpot along with a 10 free spins feature and Mustang Money wild reels, the five reel 10 pay line slots game offers amazing graphics and smooth game play.

Conclusion
Even though casinos have lots of traditional games like blackjack and roulette, take a few minutes to check out the new games every once in a while. After all, the first time you played blackjack it was new to you. How will you ever find a new favorite game if you don’t see what’s available?