Casino gambling a viable Branson entertainment option
By GARY J. GROMAN
a.k.a. The Ole Seagull
Casino gambling can now be added to the repertoire of exciting entertainment options available to visitors while they are in Branson. Although casino gambling is not available in Branson it is available, as a lot of other things are in Branson are, as a “day trip.” Day trips are not anything new to Branson; they have been around for years and are basically a trip for the day from Branson to do something else such as visit Silver Dollar City, Eureka Springs, rent a boat and cavort on Table Rock Lake, or fly fish on beautiful Lake Taneycomo and now, thanks to the entrepreneurship of Steve Monroe, to visit and be entertained in a Las Vegas style casino.
Initially, Monroe intended to use his 34 passenger bus for scenic tours around the Branson area. As he sought to develop his business he got a constant stream of inquiries from people asking if he did runs to the casinos.
The scenic tour aspects of the business did not develop as Monroe hoped it would and he started to search for casinos within a reasonable round trip days driving distance of Branson. His goal was to allow for an early evening same day return to Branson. He said he wanted his guests to be able to enjoy the evening in Branson whether at a show, playing miniature golf, shopping, eating a leisurely meal, just plain relaxing or doing one of the myriad of other things available to entertain Branson’s visitors.
Most recently, the Gas Buster Tour casino trips have been to the brand new “Las Vegas style” Downstream Casino owned and operated by the Downstream Development Authority for the Quapaw Tribe. Downstream is located where the Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas state borders meet near Exit 1 on Interstate 44 about seven miles southwest of Joplin or about two hours from Branson.
In describing the basic itinerary for the trip, Monroe said the bus leaves Branson at 7:40 a.m. and, after making some intermediate stops on the way, arrives at the Downstream Casino between 10 and 10:15. At about 4:00 p.m. the return trip to Branson starts with an arrival back in Branson at about 6:30 p.m.
In keeping with the great Branson tradition of entertainment Monroe is quick to say, “A Gas Buster Tour to the casino is more than a bus ride,” and goes on to describe it as an entertainment experience. It starts off with the serving of coffee and donuts prior to boarding the bus and continues with free bingo, games, and prizes conducted by his helpers “Hollywood” and “Lucky” on the way to the casino.
Monroe says his service is virtually free to his guests. He charges each guest $20.00 for the trip, but upon arrival the casino gives each guest on the bus a $20.00 chit use just like cash while at the casino.
Monroe feels he is meeting an entertainment need that is not currently being met in Branson. He says that his service provides a convenient opportunity for those Branson guests that want to gamble to do so without actually having gambling in Branson.
Furnished Courtesy of the Branson Daily Independent.