only game in town

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A roulette wheel in the Kurhaus, Wiesbaden, Germany. The term only game in town is believed to be an allusion to a gambling venue.


An allusion to a gambling venue.[1]


only game in town (usually uncountable, plural only games in town)

  1. (idiomatic, almost always preceded by the) The only opportunity, activity, or resource available.
    • 1973, Stanley Elkin, Searches & Seizures: Three Novellas, Boston, Mass.: Nonpareil Books, David R. Godine, Publisher, →ISBN, page 265:
      It was the first elected position he had ever held, his single incumbency and, he had to admit, his best prospect, the only game in town.
    • 1995 November 12, Adam Rogers, “Now for some Hotjava”, in Newsweek[1], retrieved 1 January 2014:
      Java won't long be the only game in town. Microsoft already plans to publish a rival software, code-named Blackbird.
    • 1999 November, Rebecca Rohan, “Beyond the browser wars: Navigator and Explorer aren't the only games in town”, in Black Enterprise, volume 30, number 3, New York, N.Y.: Earl G. Graves Publishing, ISSN 0006-4165, page 48:
      If you surf the Web, chances are you're using some version of either Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer. [] But contrary to popular belief, they aren't the only games in town. While the two combatants offer great interfaces and features, there is something to be said for taking the road less traveled.
    • 1999 December 12, “Will the yen's surge do Japan in?”, in BusinessWeek[2], retrieved 1 January 2014:
      When exports are the only game in town, currency gyrations can be a killer.
    • 2007, Charles Taylor, “What is Secularity?”, in Kevin [Jon] Vanhoozer and Martin Warner, editors, Transcending Boundaries in Philosophy and Theology: Reason, Meaning and Experience (Transcending Boundaries in Philosophy and Theology), Aldershot, Hampshire; Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate Publishing, →ISBN, page 69:
      Once myth and error are dissipated, these are the only games in town. The empirical approach is the only valid way of acquiring knowledge, and this becomes evident as soon as we free ourselves from the thraldom of a false metaphysics.
    • 2013 October 24, Adewale Maja-Pearce, “Nigeria's talking shop”, in The New York Times[3], archived from the original on 29 October 2013, retrieved 1 January 2014:
      Political power, after all, is the only game in town that ensures unfettered access to the nation's oil riches.


  1. ^ For example, see Upton Sinclair (March 1908), chapter 8, in The Metropolis, New York, N.Y.: Moffat, Yard & Company, OCLC 1925780: “It’s like the story they tell about my brother—he was losing money in a gambling-place in Saratoga, and some one said to him, ‘Davy, why do you go there—don’t you know the game is crooked?’ ‘Of course it’s crooked,’ said he, ‘but, damn it, it’s the only game in town!’”