HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Retired couple Henry and Elaine Bodine like a friendly game of cards at home. But they absolutely love the real deal in Las Vegas. They go there every other month.
"It's the excitement and anticipation of maybe we're going to win big money," Elaine Bodine said.
She prefers the slot machines while Henry plays at the poker tables.
"Every time you go it's another party. It's something that you look forward to," Henry Bodine said.
Through the years the couple has collected enough Vegas business cards, brochures and complimentary clothing they can stock a small showroom..
And they've earned a reputation as regulars so a lot of perks are on the house.
"The downtown casinos invite both of us to enter into the slot tournaments or the video poker tournaments, and that's a chance of winning money without paying," Elaine said.
In some ways the Bodine's infatuation with Las Vegas illustrates the city's attraction for many folks in the 50th state.
Vegas businessman Sam Boyd spotted it early on and tapped into it in the 1970s. He built the California Hotel and Casino, then followed it with other Boyd properties as homes away from home for Hawaii residents.
"You can game with your neighbor and have fun. And at three o'clock in the morning you can have oxtail soup," Boyd Gaming vice president Bill Smith said.
He said demand is year-round. The Boyd owned travel agency Vacations-Hawaii averages 70,000 Hawaii-to-Vegas bookings annually. Its six weekly charter flights take off 96 percent full.
"We'll even have customers that come in right when we open and leave at noon that day," Smith said.
The Bodines enjoy Vegas's playground atmosphere, with shows and gambling and plenty of people.
"I've seen people bless the machine. I've seen them kiss the machine," Henry said. "I've seen them do everything and they don't know it ain't gonna change nothing."
In an Aiea store called Joy of Feng Shui we found another Las Vegas connection.
Many Vegas regulars now seek favorable odds through an ancient Chinese art. The store sells personalized Feng Shui gambling charts and there's a growing list of customers who have come home winners.
"It's not something magical where it's going to be, 'Okay, I'm going to walk in and I'm going to win the Royal Flush.' It just gives you a better chance of winning," store clerk Keoni Constantino said.
The Bodines don't count on charts or lucky charms to enjoy Vegas.
"It's the thrill of what's coming. You don't know," Henry said.
"As long as we're having fun and our health holds out, we'll keep going. We just enjoy it," Elaine said.
In a couple of days they'll leave on another Vegas vacation.
Like lots of other islanders, their goal is to enjoy the Las Vegas experience win or lose.
See the story tonight at 10 on Hawaii News Now.