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Baccarat Isn't Just for James Bond Anymore

Once the province of the rich, baccarat goes mainstream
Baccarat Isn't Just for James Bond Anymore
Everett Collection

Mention the game of baccarat and images of international spies, playboys, or tuxedo-clad royalty come to mind. But don’t tell that to Dallas Teerlink, director of table games at the Running Aces Harness Park in Columbus, Minn. After he introduced the card game to his Midwest customers two years ago, it turned into a surprise hit at the casino 30 miles northeast of Minneapolis, in part due to side bets that can pay as much as 40 to 1. A computer monitor at the table lets everyone know if the right cards come up. Explains Teerlink: “When that light goes off, the floor goes nuts.”

Best known as the second-favorite evening pastime of James Bond, baccarat has become the world’s highest-grossing casino game, thanks to wealthy Asians who sometimes bet tens of thousands of dollars a hand. Now, with China’s slowing economy pinching the purse strings of mainland gamblers, casino operators are seeking growth by taking baccarat from private salons onto the main gambling floors catering to the masses. “High rollers get all the attention, but there is an enormous amount of play that is outside that category,” says Robin Powell, a consultant who helped develop a more accessible version of the game called EZ Baccarat, which is played at Running Aces.