2014-05-01 / Viewpoint

The VIEW from here

Trip to the casino is a people-watcher’s paradise

Gary Gould — Managing Editor Gary Gould — Managing Editor I don’t gamble very often. I have been to a casino only a handful of times in my life and I’ve never done anything more than played the slots.

Once I lose a few bucks I remind myself I am essentially poor and since I can’t even win more than $1 at lottery, it’s probably better to stay away from the slots after I’ve lost a few times.

This past weekend Anita and I went with her folks to see a concert at a Michigan casino and we arrived early enough to enjoy a little time in the gaming room — well at least her father and I did. The ladies went shopping and spent money on more tangible things like clothing and outdoor ornaments.

Anita’s dad found himself a comfortable spot at a poker table and there he spent his afternoon, while I ventured into the slot area. I reminded myself that slots is in our blood — my mother always enjoyed a trip to the casino where she would spend hours playing the slot machines, and with a great deal of success.

I used her formula for success and I played machines that were “hot” and I stuck to penny slots, so I could stay at it for awhile. I held my own for a few hours, but finally I decided I am not the slot player mom was and I threw in the towel.

The rest of the time there, while I waited for the women to return from shopping, I people-watched. It was an experience, to say the least, because there’s a whole new world of interesting and unusual people to be found in a casino.

Seated beside me at one point was an older woman who seemed completely engrossed in her slot machine. I had played for a little while next to her and suddenly I hit a “bonus” in which I won something like $3 or $5. I didn’t think much of it, but she turned to me and says in a gruff voice: “Hmmm. Congratulations. I haven’t seen anyone hit the bonus on that machine in a long time.”

Almost immediately thereafter someone across the room hit it big and an alarm went off, followed by screams of happiness. I remarked to my neighbor: “Sounds like she hit it big.” To which she responded, even more gruffly: “I’ve hit some big jackpots before and I never screamed like that. At least someone is going home a winner tonight.”

If you’re not having fun at the casino, maybe it’s time to think about a new pastime.

There’s a lot of smokers in casinos. Maybe it’s because casinos are one of the last place left where you can smoke indoors, but almost everyone was smoking and the place reeked of cigarettes.

There were also just a lot of clichés walking around the place. People trying to play two slot machines at once. There was a 70-year-old woman dressed like she was 25 perched at a poker table wearing a short skirt with a big tattoo displayed on her thigh and her hair was dyed red and blue and some other colors. There were also big security guards in black suits with radio earpieces looking very menacing. There would be no George Clooney and Matt Damon Ocean’s Eleven-style heists happening there that day.

Overall it was a fun time, but casinos just aren’t for me. Oh sure, I’d like to go again, but maybe just to watch the people again so I can have a good laugh and remind myself why the ban on smoking cigarettes in bars was a good move afterall.

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