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Thoughts & observations on casinos....


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Hey all:


I wanted to share my thoughts & insights on casinos.


When I was a child and  growing up (70's), I often heard tales of "junkets" to Las Vegas.  Stories of the mob & organized crime running things.  This was at the tail end of the mob running Las Vegas, just before the corporations finally took everything over.  I had visions of casinos being slightly dangerous...but yet a sophisticated and wild place.  Kind of outside the bounds of normal society and right on the fringe.


I also saw James Bond movies and imagined that casinos were generally sophisticated, elegant, luxurious and rich places.  Patrons were worldly, sophisticated, well to do.  Men dressed in suits and tuxedos for the most part.  Women were gorgeous, sophisticated and dressed in cocktail dresses, evening gowns and such.


Such is the imagination of a child....


Fast forward many years.


I am now a young man.  Casinos have legally opened near my home.  Fortune calls out to my Dad and I and we go to meet it.


I found out that reality and fortune does not match my images of childhood...not even close!


First of all, we had to wait in line to get in!  Surprisingly, other people had the same idea that we did...This was when casinos were first legalized in the jurisdiction.  The first one open had an incredible lead on their competitors.  Once inside, the place was jammed with patrons seeking their fortune.


We sat & played a bit of Carribean Poker, a "carnival game".  As we play, a cocktail waitress comes around asking if anybody wants a drink.  This poor woman has seen better days....all of the waitresses and servers I saw had.  What a contrast with what I had imagined.  I guess it does not matter what a server looks like as long as they can do their job....So of course I'll have a drink!  Turns out that it costs $7  whut, Whut, WHUT?  Drinks are not free?  Where the hell do you think you are?  VEGAS? 


After an hour or so I just did not get very much in terms of the cards dealt to me.  I won a little, lost a bit more...won a little, lost even more, so I lost a good chunk of the money I had come with.  Dad lost only a little bit.  We decided to get up & walk around.  After a bit of walking I decide to use the restroom, so Dad stays put and off I go to find it.  I come back 10 minutes (or less) to a fuming, angry father....What is the problem I inquire?  He was mad that I took so long..WHY DID IT TAKE ME TEN MINUTES TO  FIND, and WALK TO & FROM THE WASHROOM????....He could not "sit on his hands" and just had to put a $100 bill into a slot machine.  He was beside himself that he lost it all in the short time I was walking to & from the washroom.  How could that have happened?  How is that my fault?  I shrug it off.  That really should have been a warning to me...lose $100 in mere minutes...




So Dad lost, maybe all of our bad luck is used up!  I decide to show him how things are done and I put some money into a slot machine to get my riches....After a few pulls of the handle, I have not won, in fact I have lost almost half of my money!  WTF?


I slow down  a bit and look at the machine closely.  I notice that the characters on the wheel are NOT paying off.  To add insult to injury they are not even lining up properly across the pay line!  This machine must be broken...so I get a slot technician and she informs that the machine is acting "just the way it is supposed to".  Now I get it,  the casino can't even be bothered to have the characters line up properly on their slots.  What must the "hold" be on these accursed things?  I have no idea, but it has got be YUGE!  Nobody wins here EXCEPT THE HOUSE.


I laughed at the technician & slot machine and cashed out.  No more slots for me, never again.


As we left, I wondered where are all the suave and debonair men?  Where are the beautiful, sultry, sophisticated ladies?  Where are the jubilant winners yelling that they won a jackpot?  That they "broke the bank"?  The smiling faces, the laughing patrons slapping each other on the back, celebrating their good fortune?  This place and it's patrons look like a bus stop depot.  A sad, broken down bus stop. 

Nobody here "broke the bank", the bank broke them!


What a let down.


After that, I did not step into a casino for a few years....


(to be continued)

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I went to Vegas years ago to exhibit at JCK & expected something similar to what you imagined, and found it to be cheap & garish.


Also, used to stop by Biloxi now & then to give them a few hundos.


Last time I went to the IP & while sitting in front of a slot machine, I just felt stupid.

It was not fun in any sense of the word.


I do, however, enjoy the way the waitresses "lift & separate" to take full advantage of what they don't necessarily have (this, plus the free buffet, barely comes close to compensating for the loss of cash.)


I doubt if I'll ever go into a casino again.


WEB's rule #1 - Don't lose money!

WEB's rule #2 - Duh

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My father has an addition to gambling which cost him his business when I was a young kid and my house was seized by the IRS and my name was a black mark in the community for many years.  (He was an insurance agent who branched out and actually started writing some policies in some niches where he felt the big guys were walking away from business.  He was correct and when we closed the business this was one a few assets which had value).  Where he lost money was he did a lot of work serving farmers in the Upper Midwest in about 8 states and he felt that gave him a house advantage over the commodities traders.  He took his clients funds and tried to play the float before his policies were due to the parent company and early success led to bigger bets and bigger losses and doubling down until margin calls hit and took the business with him.


10 years later he is finally doing ok with his own auditing business for insurance companies but work takes him to live in Las Vegas and the family stays in flyover country.  He comes home 10 months later lost his job and we get some letters from Casinos in Las Vegas that my Dad owes a bunch of money to them ($30-50k in full).


Fast forward again another 15 years to 10 years ago and he becomes guardian for his Mom.  I am nervous but he has a new girlfriend who seems to help him as a steadying influence.  Turns out he fooled us.  It took 3 years for him to empty her out of $120k.  You can see in his withdrawl history where it starts and then where it goes from manageable to bad.


Before this I decided that I will never give these casinos any real money.  Like many others I went to Las Vegas for the first weekend of the NCAAs.  When we started we just needed betting tickets of $50 to get a free drink and I could drink for free (+tips) for a few tickets that I would find from friends/others.  As that weekend got busier and I got older we moved to the less busy 2nd weekend.  Our group #s stayed the same and a few guys go every year but I go every 2-3 years and I like it less and less.


Work took me out there for a convention a few weeks ago and I was shocked at how busy it was everywhere.  I never remember it being this busy.  table mins were up, etc.

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