Americans like to gamble and I’m a very loyal American. I enjoy gambling and lately I’ve been gazing deep into my soul and wondering why?
I’m enjoying this existential exercise while sitting in a beautiful suite in the Palazzo Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. I feel that deep contemplation is best done in a comped suite with several flat screen TV’s and prompt room service. I feel a little guilty luxuriating here while so many people are unemployment and going through hard times. The poor economy in Nevada is actually the reason that I can afford this. I am what’s known as a low roller or maybe a minnow, as opposed to the better known high-rollers or whales of gambling. There is a dearth of big spenders in Vegas at the moment so the casinos have moved on to the schools of minnows who meander about in our loud Hawaiian shirts, carrying our players clubs cards and waiting for the buffet to open. Casinos that a few years ago would never have thought to offer comps to chubby middle America are suddenly treating us royally if only we’ll drop our pennies into the penny slots. The $50 Blackjack tables are a little dusty but the Hee-Haw slots are burning up.
I fly to Vegas at least four times a year from our home in Texas. It’s a quick and inexpensive flight on wonderful Southwest Airlines. I can leave home at 7 am and be enjoying a complimentary beverage at the slots in just a few hours.
I wonder why people gamble… More specifically why do I gamble?
I only gamble in Vegas. I don’t play our state lottery because I understand that the odds of winning the lottery are less than the odds of being hit by a dead beaver as I leave the convenience store where I bought my ticket. More importantly the lottery is not fun. You buy a ticket and you lose. That’s not my definition of fun. I prefer to pack a suitcase, fly for a few hours, put money in a slot machine, hear the slot machine music, watch the flashing lights, then lose. The result is the same but the process differs. One method is boring, the other is exciting.
Non-gamblers do not see this subtle difference. I have been asked why I would possibly want to participate in an activity that I know will most likely result in the loss of my wager. My answer is very simple. It’s a whole buckety-bucket bunch of fun.
I am an anal retentive control freak.
I have long accepted this condition and it has served me well and been quite successful in many parts of my life. Marriage and relationships are not included in the success portion of that statement. Anal retentive control freaks don’t do relationships well. However, in business and finance it has worked well. I like to analyze every facet of every situation. I weigh the pros and cons. I look at the upside and the downside. I worry the options and alternatives until they are in tatters. I take few risks and go with the option that almost assures me of success.
Anal retentive control freak gambling is my release.
Since I have led a life of ultra low risk taking, gambling fills in a void in my life that might have been filled by such risky behaviors as hang-gliding, scuba diving, parachuting, demolition derby or voting Republican. But being just a little whacky in a casino is an acceptable risk for me. Gambling is the only form of entertainment where there is a chance for a refund of your admission price.
Think about your own hobby or the activities that you participate in for entertainment. For example, have you ever gone to a movie or a concert where at the end of the show an emcee announces that 10% of the audience will get a full refund and one lucky player will get a $500 prize just for coming? Of course you haven’t because that would be crazy! How about that round of golf or bowling? Does the winner get a refund and a prize? Nope!
So my deep introspection into my love of Vegas gaming has finally resulted in the realization that it’s just a buckety-bucket buncha fun!
Win or lose? I frankly don’t care which happens. It’s the cheapest form of entertainment I’ve ever enjoyed and I get a little thrill every time I hear the bells or jingles or see the dice roll. I have no fantasy about “the big win” but I’ve had many winning trips simply because I follow intelligent money management. My status as chubby minnow gets me free rooms and food even though our economy lags. My free ride will probably end when business picks up. I also altruistically pat myself on the back for doing my part to keep people employed. Gaming is the biggest employer in Nevada and at the moment Las Vegas has a high unemployment rate. Gaming is a discretionary expense and everything there is down. So my little minnow pennies along with remembering to tip well and tip often does a little something to help. Also, remember it a buckety-bucket bunch of FUN!
Nobody comes to bring you free drinks when you’re flushing your money down the toilet, so gambling IS more fun!
Strangely if I had loads of money I would gamble. The strange part is that if you have a lot of money and gamble small (compared to your loads of money) then it misses the point of losing or winning big. I imagine the excitement for a lot of people is that feeling of walking along the knife edge. Man, now I want to gamble.
You have an interesting perspective on it, by being entertained by the bells and whistles. I went to Vegas a few years ago with the family and it was entertaining to watch the people gamble and the bright lights of the strip. I would love to go on a weekend with $1000 to play though.
This is an interesting article on poker, I recommend it.
I watched some poker competition on ESPN one night. It was actually quite entertaining and I still don’t know why.
@Dom, Thanks for the comments. I can only speak for myself and it’s a very blunt knife edge. I have a very strict entertainment budget and never come close to going over budget.
I loved the article on professional poker. I love to play video poker. So much so, that I have software to practice with that grades you and gives you the background math. However, the thought of playing that game professionally is completely unappealing. It’s like chocolate cake. I love chocolate cake,, but the idea of eating a piece at every meal makes me sick. The same with professional gambling. All the fun would disappear and it would just be a job. A risky and boring job!
You make very valid points. I never play the state lottery for the reasons you said but i never thought about gambling in Vegas. I like it! Haha, it’s about time I book that flight and throw away some money in an enjoyable way.
@graysonjack, It’s not throwing away your money if you’re having fun! Then it’s paying for your entertainment !! Book that flight!
You gamble like my dad does. The casinos send him free credits as an incentive. Then he goes and enjoys all the luxuries but never gambles with anything other than his free credits. Hes always bragging about the buffets.
Your dad sounds like my kinda guy!
Alan, your site is now as bright and colourful as the shirt (and smile . . . ) you are wearing in the shot with, is this Mrs S?
Good to get some inside info from Vegas even if it is from a minnow, lucky you! Have been to Vegas twice, the first time we stayed off strip at the seedy Key Largo which counted for much in the way of valuable research and experience. Next was at Planet H. I tell everyone Vegas is one of those must see places before dying etc and of course they tut with cultured disbelief before going off to discover for themselves just how off the planet wonderful it is.
Well done on keeping the coffers open in Nevada, such responsible citizenry!
Patti, Thank you for noticing my bright smile! As for the young lady, we didn’t really exchange names, but Mrs. S. is as good a name as any… You make a good point about people tut’ing Vegas. I find that those folks are the ones who go the craziest when they are there. Planet Hollywood is a little too young and happening for me. last time I was there was just before the Kim Kardashian birthday bash. People were in pre-lunacy mode. Oddly my invitation for that seemed to have been lost in the mail. Just as well since I would have had to send my regrets. They party way past my bedtime.