I’m not a gambler. This is not to say I don’t take risks. But I don’t gamble with my money. But the colored lights and constant sounds of the casino seemed to call to me.
I stopped at a casino near Durango, Colo., not long ago and lost $1.35.
Obviously, casino operators are not building massive, high-tech, money-making, slot-machine shrines with much of my reverent help.
I’m not a gambler. This is not to say I don’t take risks. I get up every morning. Depending upon the weather, traffic and number of body pains, sometimes that seems as though I’m taking a chance.
But I don’t gamble with my money. The investment profile for my 401k plan is conservative. My picks in the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament include no bracket busters. The meal I order in a restaurant almost always is some recognizable entree written in chalk on the “Specials” board. I even button my back wallet pocket when I’m walking in a crowd.
Not a regular
So when I walked into the casino that Saturday — ready with my friends to pass some time before we headed over to catch a flight at the nearby airport — the first thing I did was walk over to a snack bar and buy a hamburger for lunch. It was a bacon cheeseburger with fries, served by a waitress who was attentive in filling up my coffee cup and water glass. No gamble there.
You have to understand that this was about 11:30 in the morning. I’m not used to losing money that early in the day on a weekend. Even the stock market is closed. Usually, I’m getting something for my money. I’m paying utility bills, buying staples at the grocery store or picking up gasoline for the lawn mower.
But as I was finishing the last of the dill pickle that came on the side, the colored lights and constant sounds of the casino seemed to call to me.
Who wouldn’t like to make lights flash and bells ring? Eating, breathing and causing a commotion are the three main human instincts with which we are born. Raising a ruckus is kind of hard-wired into us.
So when I went over and stood behind three of my friends to watch them play — three others were elsewhere in the casino, presumably beating the house — I slowly began to want to gamble. I could be pushing the button and making the blips and the beepers and the bells sound. I might be making the lights flicker crazily. It should be me causing gamblers all around me to wonder, “Wow, what did he win to draw so much attention to himself?”
You always assume you’re going to be a high noise-maker.
When one of my friends got hungry enough to seek out his own lunch, I slipped in behind him at his machine and inserted $5 in the money slot.
It was a nickel machine. I played it eagerly because the casino didn’t appear to have any penny machines.
I played one nickel at a time. Another nearby friend said, “You’re not going to win much playing that way.”
But you don’t lose much playing a nickel at a time, either. You may go to a casino to win, but a lot of the time you limit your losses before leaving.
Admittedly, losing a little was entertaining. I was paying to participate. I’d lose nickels for a while, and then win a few back. And there always was the off chance I would win a whole bunch of nickels. Maybe next time.
After about an hour, my friend came back. I was ready to give him his seat back. I must not have a gambling addiction.
I cashed out for $3.65 of my $5. I lost only $1.35.
I felt like I’d won. I was happy.
Casinos are kind of depending upon that feeling.
Contact Gary Brown at email@example.com.