The garish lights and faux wood panelling reek of despair and cheap cologne; pucker faced waitress’s parade up and down the rows of tables with drinks raised in the air like stone greek olympians. This is a place where the young and old alike come to die and be reborn from the ashes of failure, dreaming only to caress the sweet bosom of lady luck and hit the mother load just in time for rent day.
As with every casino, it’s the lack of natural light that draws you into an alternate reality, the flashing of the upright games machines and the clatter of the roulette ball confuse the senses so much that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry, so instead you buy a drink and watch, doing the rounds of the card tables, eventually convening on the huge wheels of the roulette tables. Chinese boys barely eighteen sit slack faced rubbing piles of hundred pound chips so tall they are in the thousands, every round throwing them randomly across the numbers and occasionally ordering the croupier to place them on specific high stakes sections in such a manner that it is only reserved for those with obscene wealth.
The insanely clever but simple aspect of watching your money gracefully slide through a hole in the table only to be replaced by a tall stack of colourful chips is enough to make anyone forget that each of these circular nuggets are worth real life, cold hard cash, and therein lies the danger. Your mind is tricked into losing the value of what you hold in your hand because it isn’t a recognisable currency in the outside world, which is so far away when you are locked in a virtual time warp that it almost doesn’t matter. And as quickly as your notes slid into the little hole, the plastic chips in your hand disappear to the depths of the table, never to be seen again, not unless you part with more paper, because your luck will come back; you were up, but you got cocky, this time the sensual tickle of lady luck is sure to be running up and down your spine, placing your hand with omnipotent guidance to the right numbers, just one more go. And on and on it goes, until you are either bone dry, or sensible enough to see the farce for what it is.
Burning your wallet would be more of a statement than giving it openly to what can only be in someway or another, a criminal organisation. Maybe not criminal in the sense of dirty dealings, but criminal for the fact that these establishments are on the whole, legal. Buildings that rob people of their rent cheques, their weekly shop and any other form of sensible spending. On the one hand, it is of your own free will that you walk into a casino and put your months wages on the table only to piss them out into the ether, but if these places did not exist, neither on such a large scale, would the problem.
The glamourous side of gambling only exists in films, yet in the minds of many, even though they can see their surroundings and experience the loss, it still has a lure not built from a addiction or desperation, but that of fun. In absolute essence, people find it ‘fun’ to en masse, throw money away; people who are against charity, people who have minuscule incomes and people that can barely put food on their table.
In part I understand. The fear and excitement as cards are lain and balls rolled, the jump in your stomach when you actually win, and the feeling of stupidity when you walk out into the fresh air and natural light all play a part in the enjoyment factor. It is almost in the same vein of argument as drinking…in effect, you are paying lots of money to poison yourself, offend friends and loved ones, then spend an entire day feeling sorry for yourself, but the difference there is, alcohol has been a force of good in the world as well as bad. Moderation is key, sometimes, and many great works have been written by the most inebriated of souls, but aside from being the inspiration for many a classic delta blues tune, gambling has not benefited anyone except those that prey on the week of heart and stubborn of character.
Casino’s and betting shops have no place in a progressive society, but take a step back and it’s easy to forget that we are heading further into an overtly subtle draconian society, they just do a better job of hiding it than the days of yore.