In an unmapped solar system, the U.S.S Enterprise discovers a jagged chunk of metal bearing a United States Air Force insignia.

The Away Team beams down to a building on a nearby planet, hoping to find a connection between the structure and the ship fragment. When Riker, Worf and Data materialize in front of a revolving door that leads them into the casino of the Hotel Royale, their communication with the U.S.S. Enterprise is suddenly cut off. The away team is trapped by the revolving door, which continually leads back into the casino lobby, full of employees and patrons showing no signs of life.

While the Away Team searches for an exit, the drama of a bellboy preparing to fight an evil gambler for the woman he loves unfolds before them. In another one of the hotel rooms, the crew discovers the body of an American Air Force officer and among his remains, a novel titled "The Hotel Royale," the story being lived out before them. As communication with the U.S.S. Enterprise is restored, Data reads from the officer's diary that the world was created by aliens who misinterpreted the novel to reflect the preferred human way of life.

Back in the casino, Riker realizes that the key to their exit may be found in the book. Picard tells Riker that the story ends with "foreign investors" buying out the hotel, and life for the other characters going on as before. Data, calculating percentages at the crap table, quickly breaks the bank, buying the hotel and escaping with the rest of the team out of the perpetual drama.