I've never been much of a gambler. Taking risks with my very hard earned money has never been something I care to do.
But ever since I went on my first bus trip to the casinos in Atlantic City, I have had a love of the slot machines.
Its not that I think I'm going to win money at the slots. If I'd ever won any money, I'd probably love them even more. For me, the slots are an amusement. They are something I don't do often, so when I do play them, I want to have fun at them.
What I have always loved about the slot machines is the thrill of feeding a coin in, pulling the handle, watching the wheel spin, hearing the coins hit the metal tray when I win, carrying my bucket full of coins around with me. It is the physical sight and sound that I find so thrilling.
On my first trip to the slot machines, I learned that if you're on a very limited budget, as I was, the quarter and 50 cent machines can eat up your money in a matter of minutes. So, I'm a nickel slot machine player. Since I'm there for the thrill of playing, the nickel slots will allow me to play much longer than the quarter slots will.
At the nickel slots, I have also found people of like mind. People who are there for the pure enjoyment of it. I've had some wonderful conversations with people at the next machine and we've had the time to have that good conversation because we were satisfied to win or lose a couple bucks instead of a couple hundred.
Some years back, casinos started putting in machines that allowed you to push a button instead of pulling the handle. I didn't find that appealing, but, luckily, they still gave the option of pulling the handle.
Since my trips to casinos are spaced years apart, I had not kept up on the latest trends, so when I went to a casino in New York this year, I was dumbfounded in the changes.
The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the QUIET. Oh, there was the hum of human voices, but where was the chink, chink, chink of money hitting the metal trays?
I quickly found out that things have changed since I was last at a casino. Now, you go to the cashier and get a card worth however much you want to spend. At the slot machine, you put the card in, place your bet, using a button, and if you win, the machine just tallies it up. If you want to cash out, the machine spits out a piece of paper worth that amount.
Gone is the thrill of pulling the handle, gone is the chink, chink, chink of money hitting the tray, gone is the thrill of carrying around 2 buckets of nickels (or quarters).
I felt CHEATED.
For 30 odd years, I've gone to the slots and given them my money and never felt cheated because I only spend what I can afford to lose and the slots have given me enjoyment in return for my money. I have looked at the slot machines as being no different than paying to go to a movie. You pay your money, they show you a movie. At the slots, I pay my money, they give me the thrill of pulling the handle, hearing the coins chink onto the tray to then be put into my bucket.
But this time, all that fun was gone. There was no fun in putting a card into the machine and getting a slip of paper in return. There was no THRILL to it.
I understand that the casinos want to make their lives easier and that they don't care whether we, the patrons, get a "thrill" or not. They want our money and it doesn't matter to them that I, with my measly $50, didn't have "fun". They know that there are thousands of other people who are going to keep coming because they are not looking for an afternoon of entertainment, they are looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.