The Gaming Industry

So, while I was in Shreveport this weekend, picking up an organ-turned-family-heirloom, Danny and I decided to stop by one of the many prestigious casinos in the riverfront area. Having known that Harrah's was the first to go up when casinos were legalized back in the mid-90's, I decided we should check it out.

It seemed nice enough from the outside. Sure, all the parking lots that used to house the festivities for such events as Artbreak, the Revel and the Mudbug festival had been converted into lots for buildings, hotels, and parking garages, but all of those additions had a new, quasi-ritzy appeal to them.

The parking garage was free, which further enticed us to check things out on the interior. Upon entry, we were greeted with a huge atrium with a 3-story fountain sculpture and a barrage of choices that were shouting for our attention.

The first place that successfully grabbed our almighty buck was the gift shop, where I was almost certain I could score a pack of those ever-so-elusive used playing cards. Sure enough, they were there. And infuriatingly cheap, too. Less than a buck a pack. I was already pleased.

Now, having never been to Vegas, I had never seen the floor of a gambling hall before. Being 21, I had that option. However, my underage friend didn't have that luxury.

As the security guards to the entry of the floor looked on from afar, I told Danny I'd be back in less than a minute. He took a seat in the atrium and I proceeded to the inner debauchery that was the gambling chamber, without one suspicious look from the guards on duty.

Upon entry, I was immediately stricken with a sickening cloud of cigarette smoke and the faint smell of Sunday-afternoon booze. I briskly walked around the inner perimeter of the floor: thousands upon thousands of slot machines to my left, a dozen or so card tables to my right.

What really grabbed my attention was the masses of people camped out in front of their own personal slot machine. These people were not having fun playing games of chance. They all looked depressed, like they were enslaved to the one-armed bandit before them, charged with the sacred duty of winning back all that money they blew the first time they visited the casino.

And they were doing so on a Sunday afternoon. "Where is your football," I wanted to ask. "Look at yourselves. You're not enjoying yourselves. This is a second job that takes all your time and money that your first job provides."

Of course, all these people probably didn't have first jobs, but were rather spending welfare or pension checks in hopes of multiplying their worth with zero effort.

Walking into this parlor of forlornity without any intent on spending a dime opened my eyes while teaching me a valuable lesson. I never planned on gambling in the past, but I can assure myself now that I never will in the future.

So, for the rest of society, let it be known that while gambling in Vegas may continue to be glitzy and glamourous, gambling in Shreveport is just plain depressing.

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