A Double Edged Sword

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Our part of the state boasts is home for two very large Indian (Native American?) casinos. Sweet Baboo and I will every now and then take $20 each and play the 1¢ slots. You can do a lot of playing with 2000 pennies. When our $20 each is gone, we leave and the evening is over.

We like the slots in the Smoke Free section, but it’s about a ten minute trek through cigarette smoke that you can cut with a knife. Because the casino is on Indian land (known as a sovereign nation), state laws regarding smoking are not upheld there; smoking is allowed everywhere in the casinos except where they have designated a smoke free area. After all, smoking and gambling are both addictions, are they not? Smokers will gamble more if they are allowed to smoke freely.

I know that both casinos employ thousands of people. For that reason, it’s been very good for our part of the state. Many people who wouldn’t have jobs otherwise are employed by them.

Both casinos run advertisements on TV that present impeccably dressed, deliriously happy people with ecstatic smiles on their faces because they have obviously won lots and lots of money while gaming at the casinos. They are so happy that they have to smile with their mouths wide open. You can count their teeth if you have a large enough screen on your TV.

The reality is, we have never seen people like that at either casino. We see elderly men and women looking anything but happy pushing buttons on the slots like robots. I wonder how much of their social security checks they have dumped into those machines. I see women there with their babies (infants!!) in car seat carriers on the floor while they play the machines or table games. (I saw one woman sitting at the end of a row of slot machines with her child in a carrier 6 feet away from her in the corridor. You have to be 21 years old to be on the gaming floors and this woman apparently found a way around it.) I see men and women looking worried and despondent and hopeless, holding their heads in their hands, all the while digging through their wallets for their ATM cards.

Admittedly, every now and then you will hear somebody yell happily, but you know that any money they may have won is being put down and bet again because they are so sure they can double it, that their luck has changed.

No question, countless people have jobs because of the casinos– how many others have lost their jobs and homes and families because of a gambling addiction?

I don’t know where they are keeping the happy people.