*** (3 stars out of 5)
A Klingon ship reported spotting some debris with Earth markings at the freezing ammonia tornado world of Theta VIII. Turns out it was NASA, and down on the surface is a casino called the Hotel Royale. But they had our heroes at "ammonia tornado".
Once Riker, Data, and Worf check in, they can't check out.
The Assistant Manager is Mr. Gorpley himself, Sam Anderson. He's trying to stop the bellhop going up against a mobster over a dame. The bellhop is, of course, killed. "Anybody with any sense is afraid of Mickey D."
A corpulent oil baron hits on a dopey showgirl. Data joins their blackjack game.
"What sort of bi'ness do you suppose he is getting down to?" Their plot line is, thankfully, not resolved.
Phasers don't work on any surface, the gamblers mostly ignore them, and the skeleton of astronaut Col. Stephen Richey is found in bed, 283 years deceased. (This skeleton is the last 'character' one might expect someone to obsess over and/or take on the filk-singing persona of its widow. Yet this happened. Trekkies sometimes frighten me.)
'Hotel Royale' is a terrible novel set in 1990's Las Vegas by Todd Matthews that aliens turned into a home for Richey, perhaps by way of apology for accidentally killing everybody else on the shuttle Charybdis. We never find out.
The novel was apparently so bad that the last 38 years of Richey's life were hellish. His only diary entry ends with: "I shall welcome death when it comes."
Exploiting the narrative, the trio become 'foreign investors' who buy the hotel for 12.5 million dollars. Data "repairs" the "improperly balanced" dice and throw after throw delivers the cash, finally allowing them (and us) to leave.
"The Royale" is cheesy. Writer Tracey Torme took his name off it over extensive re-writes. Charming cast and absurdity sometimes wins out over a mess, though. At least in my book. (Which is a terrible pulpy paperback, by the by.)