Thursday, November 03, 2005

It's like doing math problems for fun

I went to a riverboat casino yesterday. Took Mom; she's an elderly video poker shark, has all the statistics and plays and odds in her head, spends almost nothing, usually comes out ahead. It certainly keeps her mathematically-inclined brain happy, and I'm not worried about any addictions in her case.

In the morning, I did a swift study of the standard rules of Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild, crammed into that 15-Minute Parking Only slot in your brain where you keep the Rules of the Road until you take the test. I spent what I budgeted, and I "got a lot of play" out of the money. Actually, I lost most of my money on goofy clanging blinking slots with cartoon illustrations and Hee Haw story lines.

Where is the fun in this? Betting at games isn't necessarily evil, but it's such a slippery slope not to dip into the wallet for the extra $20 or more, to spend what you shouldn't. I could feel my brain going out of gear, and had to stop myself from putting more money in the machines by going outside for a few minutes.

It's less seamy than the harness track, people aren't so desperate-looking. But too many of those people at the machines weren't smiling. Hell, they weren't even focussing. They could have been fitting cogs together in a factory, for all their faces said. There certainly isn't any of that tuxedoed champagned elegance, standing at the roulette wheel or the craps table, thrilling at the chase, the nerve, the power of money.

It WAS kind of fun to use rules and see if they worked, for awhile. But the proliferation of casinos in the country does not foretell a taste for doing math problems for fun. It's instead a spread of scratching that sinful itch for distraction. I'm probably being high-and-mighty about this, but it left a bad taste in my mouth, as well as a smoky smell in my hair.

If I evince even the slightest discomfort with casino gambling and casino proliferation in the state, and the dependence of the schools on the tax revenue, I get jumped on as an Old Kill-Joy and Crabby Church Lady. Am I alone in this? Should I get a grip, or a clue?


Julie D. said...

This doesn't really bother me. It is similar to smoking or drinking or ... (to some people) dancing or going to movies.

Some people can do these things and keep it all in balance and not let it control them. A minority can't.

That is one reason I really admire the Catholic Church's stance on these things. Instead of banning them as do some Protestant denominations, they assume that each person should be able to decide what they can and can't do "safely."

Now, of course, some are not such good judges and get "caught" by that temptation. But to ban all the others because some can't handle it? That would bother me.

Anonymous said...

I, unlike most of the rest of the world, think Las Vegas is the saddest place I've ever been.

I understand Julie's comments, and I'm also not sure that I'd ban gambling in toto, but I do think its proliferation is the sign of a coarsening culture. One that is tending ever more and more to the "bread and circuses" of our time.

Therese Z said...

I guess it's the way gambling is presented: sexy, exciting in a "dangerous" way, glamorous.

But in reality the people are obsessed, out of control, behaving in ways they wouldn't at home. "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" breaks my heart and makes me afraid.

How would a "wholesome" gambling venue look?

Julie D. said...

Bingo! :-0

But drinking is portrayed as glamorous ... so is smoking ... etc.

And where do you draw the line?

Not that I'd ever go to Las Vegas. I just can't say how much it turns me off ... but I don't care a whit about gambling.



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