- Mental Health»
Casino Gambling Sucks
I had a conversation with a relative about the Seminole Casino Hollywood, Florida. She told me that an acquaintance had recently won a large sum of money in a drawing. I was happy for the acquaintance, but my general response was that I no longer had an interest in that place.
The Seminole Casino Hollywood, Florida has been around for several years. It was opened by the Seminole Indian tribe as a place for the elderly to go and play bingo, but later evolved into a full-fledged casino with card games and video slot machines. I grew up in Broward County, Florida, and I have vague recollections of my parents driving past the Native-American huts and what is now know as the casino on State Road 7. There are now several Seminole casinos in Florida. It was not until about 1998 that I was briefly introduced to the Seminole casino.
One night in 1998 a friend/ co-worker was bored and he suggested that we check out the Seminole Casino Hollywood. Neither one of us had ever been there before and I agreed to accompany him there after work. We met at the casino at about 3 a.m. Well, as soon as I walked into the facility, I wanted to leave almost immediately.
Something within me told me that this was not a good place to be. It was poorly lit, gloomy, smoky, and the people were weird: I noticed an African-American woman gambling at a slot machine and smoking a cigarette. She was wearing a nightgown, nightcap, and bedroom slippers. Then, all of a sudden there was a loud bell ringing. The woman in the nightgown jumped up from the slot machine. She and several other chronic gamblers followed the direction of the ringing. My friend and I later found out that the ringing meant that someone won a sizable jackpot. The gamblers were eager to know who this lucky soul was. I didn’t understand how to play the machines, so I sat and watched my friend gamble. My friend and I left after about 30 minutes. I was not impressed and didn’t return until about 10 years later.
One day in early 2008, a friend came to me and confided that she had won about $20,000 at the Seminole Hollywood Casino. She won the money with a $1,000 free play. She encouraged me to go ahead and sign up for the Seminole Casino Players’ Club card. There was a promotion running at the time, which entitled new Players’ Club members to get a $25.00 free play for slot play. Well, my friend convinced me to go to the casino with her one day and I signed up, reluctantly. She showed me how to play the slot machines. I chose the “Cleopatra” machine, and got lucky. I ended up winning about $170.00 off of the free play, without spending any of my cash. From then on I was hooked.
I kept getting these “incentives” in the mail for free play or free merchandise. So, I would always take advantage of it. There are other little tricks to get you in the door, like free bingo and free drawing ballots for big ticket items like new Mercedes-Benz SUVs, or free live concerts featuring unknown local performers or has-beens like, Vanilla-Ice. What I didn’t want to admit to myself was that I wasn’t getting anything for free. The casinos make it very convenient for you to blow your money, they are magnanimous enough to provide ATMs that charge an arm-and-a-leg; check cashing services on site; and even cash advances. Whoopee!!! I personally never took my gambling habit to this level, though.
Things came to the point where I was visiting the casino 2-3 times per week. I was never one of those people that would spend money that was intended for bills. I used go in there with about $20- $40 a trip, but when you add it up over a year, you soon realize that it’s an expensive habit/hobby. I would often catch a glimpse of some poor soul exiting the casino crying, because he or she lost the mortgage payment or car payment. I recall that there, was one lady lamenting that she couldn’t go home to her husband because she had lost their savings in the casino.
The Way You Get Suckered into the Casino Gambling Experience
The casinos are very clever. They put an ad on television telling you that you will get a free play or that they will "reimburse" losses of brand new members (up to a specified amount). You sign up for a Players’ Club Card and receive a free play. You are told that you can earn points for gambling at the casino. At the Seminole Hollywood Casino, 1 point earned= $2.00 spent, but 400 points can be redeemed for $1.00 of stuff. Points can be redeemed for food, gas, and other so-called perks.
In the earlier stages, You might be on a winning streak, because the casino wants you to keep coming back. After months or years of gambling, you become very enthralled by the excitement of playing the slot machines. You get that happy and nervous feeling when there is a bonus round on a video slot machine. The machine lights up and there is cute music to keep you pumped up and feeding those slot machines with money. There are scantily clad cocktail waitresses walking around with platters and offering beverages on the house. When you think that the machine is “on”, you sit there like a fool, and increase your bet.
You probably build the bank all the way up to a few hundred dollars, but you keep playing. Instead of cashing out, you want to try getting a jackpot, so you start to max bet. You keep playing and the balance on the slot machine is getting lower, instead of higher. You know that you should press the big, bright “cash out” button, but you can’t bring yourself to do it, because you might miss out on a jackpot. Heck, you might be trying to win the money back that you have lost. Damed it! Now you're down to $.99, so you have to decrease your bet to one line per daub. You end up walking out of the casino penniless and feeling totally disgusted and ashamed of yourself.
This is a very depressing illustration, but it is the typical experience of chronic, compulsive gamblers. I am very glad to say that I no longer go to any casino. It’s like I woke up one day and lost the craving for it. I realized that I was wasting precious time that could be spent doing better things (like Hubbing), as well as losing money. I took me about 2 years to wake up, but thank the Lord I did. I have been “sober” for about 6 months now.
I once watched an interview with Steve Wynn on the Travel Channel. Steve Wynn is a billionaire who made his fortune in the real estate and casino gambling industries. During the interview, Wynn admitted that he didn’t gamble. His father had been a compulsive gambler, who died leaving the family broke and in debt. Steve Wynn went on to say that he does not know any gambler that comes out ahead over the long haul, because they can’t walk away. This is coming from a man who got rich from casinos. It doesn’t get any more plain than that. Any short term pleasure that you derive from going to the casino is not worth the pain you will feel over the long term. The odds are stacked against players, and casinos are in the business of making a profit. So take this as a public service announcement: Stay away from casinos.