From its inception FOX's The Casino series has been compared to producer Mark Burnett's previous non-elimination business startup show, NBC's The Restaurant. And now The Casino apparently has something else in common with The Restaurant -- low ratings.

Airing at 9PM ET/PT as part of FOX's new Monday schedule, The Casino actually dropped viewers from the premiere of its North Shore lead-in, drawing only 5.80 million viewers (as opposed to the Hawaii series' 5.92 million) according to Nielsen ratings figured reported by Daily Variety.

While the series placed third in most key demographics and only drew a 2.6/7 in the Adults 18-49 demographic, there were two bright spots for the program: 1) its ratings grew from its first half-hour to the second -- something that is generally considered a good sign, and 2) its 2.7/8 rating/share in the Men 18-49 demographic placed it second just behind CBS' Everybody Loves Raymond/Two and a Half Men combo.

Although the performance was no doubt disappointing to FOX, during the show's pre-premiere press, Burnett himself was among those trying to temper expectations for the Survivor and Apprentice producer's latest reality hit. Explaining that he had modest expectations for the docu-reality series which can trace its genesis back to a concept that he developed after filming The Restaurant's first season, Burnett told Daily Variety that "anybody who thinks that a non-elimination reality show can have monster ratings is in denial."

While we certainly agree with Burnett's opinion -- one only has to quickly review the list of reality television's most popular shows to conclude that whether it's a Survivor-like competition show, an American Idol-like talent contest, or a Bachelor-like reality romance show, an elimination aspect has been a central element of all of reality's biggest hits -- one can't help wonder if Burnett was as frank about his ratings expectations back when he was selling the show to FOX.

Whatever the case, if the initial episode ratings are any indication, it looks like Burnett is going to have to try again in his self-admitted search to find the "bozanza" associated with creating television's first "unscripted drama" that features no eliminations and the ability to go "five, six seasons... [with] no S.A.G. residuals... [and] no deficits." Of course, some might say that Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray created such a series in 1992, with their long-running The Real World.