"A Book should serve as the Ax for the frozen sea within us."-- KAFKA
This game is essentially nothing more than Monopoly plus gambling. Instead of the slumlord properties like Baltic Avenue and St. James Place, High Stakes offers players the casinos of Las Vegas for purchase! Baltic becomes the Taj Mahal, while Boardwalk is Caesar's Palace. When ending their move on an "owned" casino, instead of paying rents to the property's owner, players must gamble a given amount--the ante is higher at more luxurious casinos!
When gambling, players may select their vice of choice--either Craps, Blackjack, or Roulette. Sorry, Bond fans, no Baccarrat. The center of the board which is wide open on the basic Monopoly board is put to far more efficient use in the High Stakes version, as it features small betting tables for each game, just like the tables in Vegas. There's even a BB-equipped little Roulette Wheel! Unfortunately, for those Geeks embarked on the path of Texas Hold 'Em, there is no Poker in High Stakes (too bad, really).
Just as in Monopoly, the first player to earn a given amount of money wins the game. Chance and Community Chest cards have their texts altered-most are mandatory move-and-gamble sessions at the casino mentioned in the card. Sometimes the house advances you a stake, usually you simply roll the bones and takes your chances, like the rest of the marks.
The components are of suprisingly good quality, with the board elevated on a sloped plastic platform, much like the Deluxe Scabble game (High Stakes doesn't rotate, though). I remember having a good deal of fun as a child spinning the tiny roulette wheel. Parents of young children be warned, the roulette wheel can be turned at very high speeds by tiny hands, projecting that BB at high speeds down young gullets. Just a word to the wise. What's cool is the plastic platform is hollow and can be used to store all loose components inside.
If the Dealer McDope Game is the R-Rated version of Monopoly, then High Stakes is the PG-13 version. It adds gambling (and therefore fun, IMHO) to a pretty lackluster game, but parents should consider whether encouraging gambling is appropriate for a kid's game. Maybe one for when the adults are in the mood for Monopoly. But considering all the much better games discussed on BGG, how often is THAT going to happen?