Sunday, January 24, 2010

Vegas Games


There are a lot of thoughts about gambling and casinos. I know many people who enjoy going to a casino for entertainment. They go to sit at a slot machine or a table game, to see a show, eat at a restaurant or visit one of the other attractions offered by any given casino. My view of casinos and gambling may be different than some other people because for seven years Las Vegas was my home. My husband and I owned a house and had jobs in the area. I taught elementary school and half or more of the parents of my students were employed by casinos. The funny thing is people can picture the Las Vegas Strip or Freemont Street with its casinos and light shows but have trouble picturing that there are people who live there year round, with homes or apartments, mortgages and jobs. We drive by the billboards daily with the toll free number for people suffering from gambling addiction and forget that in other places in the country there is such a thing as last call.

When we first moved to Las Vegas we loved to go to eat at the casinos, this was eleven years ago and the buffets were really reasonable and full of fun food. Suffice it to say those first few months we both put on some extra pounds. We got used to walking by slot machines to pay for gas at the gas station or to go to the movies, a restaurant or a museum. So many casinos had extra attractions to entice people to visit and stay longer. We saw 3-D Imax movies at the Luxor, sharks at Mandalay Bay, dancing fountains at Bellagio, gondoliers at the Venetian, pirate shows at Treasure Island before the show was changed, rode a roller coaster at New York, New York and looked at the town and rode rides at the top of the Stratosphere. While we loved all of the attractions after the second month we never gambled again. Those bells on the slot machines lost their luster and I have never in my life sat down at a table game. Since we moved a few years ago new casinos have been build with even more attraction like the Wynn .

I recall one night going to dinner with friends and one of them stopped at a table game at the Mirage and bet $20 each on two hands of black jack. He lost both and kept walking like it was nothing. The friend I was next to turned to me and pointed out how that would have paid for the boots she had considered at the mall the week before and he had just gambled it as if it were nothing. I share a similar line of thinging. While I know there are a lot of people who get enjoyment and consider gambling to be entertainment I always thought more along the lines of, “What else could I be spending this on?” I would rather spend money on going out to eat, seeing a show or movie, going on vacation and staying at a hotel or visiting an amusement park. To me the money that went into a slot machine felt like I was throwing it away since the chances of winning are so unlikely. I know they post great returns on big signs in lots of casinos, but in the long run how many big winners do you really know? How many people who win big one day actually lost way more than what they won if you were to tally up the days they didn’t win?

I have conflicted feelings about online gambling. The laws about online gambling are a bit confusing. Depending on how it is done some sites may be illegal and rules vary from state to state. One of my first objections was that it is available 24/7 but then so are casinos in Las Vegas and other locals so I guess that concern may be unfounded. More than that though my biggest worry is that people will overdo it. The same people who are susceptible to the lure of a big win in person are just as likely to hope for the big win online. In writing this I looked at some web sites that offer online gambling and they do manage to make it look fun. I guess if you are able to be realistic in your expectations and responsible in what you risk, playing online may be a good option for people who live far from a casino and still want to enjoy taking a chance. It may not be for me, but that doesn’t mean it might not be just right for someone else. One site that I looked at was VegasRed. It offered games like black jack, roulette and slots. I guess with a lot more people doing staycations rather than vacations this might be a way to visit a casino from home.


  1. With all the snow we have been having this month I am really missing our old house in Las Vegas. When I see friends posts on Facebook about going to the park and it being in the 60's I have to admit to a certain amount of envy.

  2. Playing "a couple of hands" of blackjack on a whim is fine... at least you have a decent chance of winning (as opposed to the incredibly small chance of hitting on a roulette table).

    The problem is that most people end up chasing their money without understanding that the odds are truly stacked against them.

    As long as you look at it as "entertainment" and aren't using the mortgage money to try and win enough to pay off the electric bill, it's mostly harmless.