Monday, August 25, 2008

Betting On the Future

Let It Ride Baby

© 2008 Leighann Lord

I don't get gambling. My Husband tried to teach me to play roulette. He put the money on the table. The wheel spun. The ball fell. A man in a shiny black vest took our money.

"We get that back, right?"

"Uh, no."
my Husband said.

"Why not?"

"That's not how it works."

"But I'm just learning. We have to pay for that?"




My dislike for gambling doesn't mean I'm not a risk taker. I'm a roller coaster junkie, a stand-up comedian, and I drive in New York City during rush hour. Gambling seems a tad passé.

Some people gamble for fun. The winning part certainly seems like a blast, but I don't handle the losing part very well. I watched my Dad play video poker last week. He put in $20. When he was up $21.75 I said, "Woo hoo! Cash out!" When he was down to $18 I panicked. I saw my meager inheritance folding like a pair of deuces in the face of a flush.

Ultimately how grown folks spend their time and money is their business. The operative adjective-noun pairing here is Grown Folks. I am perpetually perplexed by the parents who think its okay to bring their children to a casino. As if childhood isn’t short enough. It's not okay. It's a casino!

Do parents think the bright lights and cacophony of sound will amuse their toddlers? Do they want the kids to see that their future is riding on pure luck of the draw? While this is quite the hands on lesson in finance, teaching children about money by taking them to a casino is like teaching them about sex by taking them to a strip club. If that sentence doesn't bother you, get help.

Recently while working at a casino, I was on my way to the showroom and had to navigate my way through a bottle neck of strollers. I was so disgusted I wanted to scream,

"What? Did Chuck E. Cheese go out of business? Did Disney World shut down? Are baby sitters on strike? Wouldn't it be nice if there was some appropriate place to take your kid like a park, a museum or a G-Rated movie? Too bad here's nothing like that, huh."

I'm sorry, but if you can't afford a baby sitter, you can't afford to gamble.

My unveiled contempt was shared by those couples who planned a nice weekend get away without their kids, only to find themselves rubbing elbows with the Teletubbies, Elmo and Hannah Montana crowd.

A casino isn't a total den of iniquity. In a way it's very much like a church, permeated with a raw and real spirituality. Underneath the constant chime of slot machines you can almost hear the ardent prayers to win big, beat the house or to not lose anymore than they already have. With all their heart and soul people are making fervent promises and pacts with their higher power. God is being called out to prove his existence; to put up or shut up.

Whether propelled by fear or fun, people gamble with the best of intentions. Against the odds, they are full of hope. Maybe parents aren't being selfish, inappropriate and delusional when they bring their children into a casino. They're simply trying to share a sense of excitement, hope and possibility.

Yeah, right. Wanna bet?


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