This week I would like to turn my attention to those who make the casino construction, additional state revenue, and political wrangling all possible – the casino player. You may give yourself a round of applause. If it weren’t for people like us, the word “casino” would be forever next to a picture of Las Vegas being photo-bombed by a greasy haired individual wearing a fedora. But that is not who we are.
Unfortunately, there are those players whose love of gaming goes over the top and ends up being an uncontrollable, or irresponsible, lust. Of recent vintage is the less than thoughtful action of a woman who left her 9 year old son in the car to cash in a voucher she received after attending a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. Now the trip probably took all of 15 minutes or so, and people may debate whether her actions really endangered the boy. For the gamblers of the world, this is a black eye. There are far too many examples of this the media has jumped on over the years.
Despite what those who have never set foot on the inside of a casino think, 99 percent of regular gamblers are decent, respectable, law abiding people who just happen to like being in an environment where they can have fun without screaming 5 year old’s roam unsupervised, teenage mutants who act like the world owes them something, and maybe have the chance of winning a bit of money. It’s not that we don’t like children; it’s that there are times we just like to be around adults only.
The reason this is an issue is because as players we provide the gaming profits that our critics use to educate their children and keep their property taxes low. In other words, opponents will protest casino construction, spend state money to oppose legislation, and create a general negative atmosphere. But when the attempts fail and the casino is built, they are silent when acknowledging that their children are better educated or their property tax bill remained the same this year. They want all of the benefits without spending a dime.
Many regular players are senior citizens just looking for a place where they can meet likeminded people and have a little fun. There was one woman who said that she goes to the casino once a week, brings $40, and hopes to walk away with $41. She is typical of many people who are regular players. Add to the list tour groups or adult families who want to include a casino trip as part of a birthday or anniversary celebration.
Of course, there is the problem of gambling addiction. It is a very real problem for some people; there is no denying that. The woman mentioned earlier who went to cash in a voucher is not likely to fall into that group. Yet the public perception of her now is that she is an irresponsible mother who left her kid in a car in, of all places, a casino parking lot. If it were in a supermarket parking lot it would be different. But the connection has been made by the media.
There seems to be a contradiction of perspective by the media when it comes to a casino. Regular gamblers are rarely perceived as positive people. Instead, if they are enjoying themselves it is sitting in front a Red, White and Blue 7’s machine, drink in hand, smiling because their lust for money has just taken another step up. Even the casinos themselves are guilty of this stereotype in their advertising. But regular players know it is more about the environment than the winning. Yet no one sees this. Not the media in its eternal search for news stories that will expose a vice. Nor the casinos, who are more interested in the profits than the players who make those profits possible. And certainly not the person who has never stepped inside a casino because doing so would be beneath them, but are in line to take advantage of the goodies that those inside serve up.
The moral of the story is that maybe it is time the average gambler began taking steps to have the truth about casino goers told in a fair and balanced way. We come in all shapes and sizes, from a variety of social and economic backgrounds, and many of us have families that we spend 97% of our lives taking care of. We do not wait for the next jackpot or the next opportunity to break the law. A casino, online or not, is an escape from reality for a few hours, much like a vacation, cruise, video game, or even a television show. So to those on the outside: get a grip on reality. We are very much like you. We just happen to prefer to take more chances with our money and have fun doing it.