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I like going to Casinos - Regular Voltaire

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November 30th, 2010

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11:26 pm - I like going to Casinos
I like going to Casinos. Having said that, I do not like to go frequently - that'd be boring. I also do not particularly like to gamble - for me, a little flutter is really just for fun. Nothing serious.

So, why DO I like going to a casino? I like it in there because you get to see another side of life. There are the hardcore gamblers, shouting 'Piktah!!' in a rising crescendo, as the croupier draws more cards for the bank's hand. Obviously, the game is blackjack and the hope is that the next card drawn would bust the banker's hand. There are the old ladies, staring vacantly into space as they slurp their cup noodles at the stand-up tables. There are the stylishly dressed young men crouching in a corner, smoking, with an expression even more empty than the old ladies. There are the gorgeously dressed young ladies (the vanishing few, sadly) and the odd Sikh with a bright turban. And they are all here to engage in an activity that would technically be illegal anywhere else outside this vast maze of dimly lit halls and pavillions.

I like it best late at night, way past 12 am. At around 3 am, the place is quiet, but not quite deserted. Many of the tables are wrapped in leather, closed for business until daylight brings more customers along. The few tables that are open are usually not crowded, as they would be during peak times. As a result, play is more relaxed. There was this one time when a mate of mine played, one on one, with the croupier in a few games of blackjack. It was cool to see that one.

Peak times have their own attraction. The shouting is more pronounced, the crowd makes things seem more urgent and euphoric. That is, of course, when you - or someone else - is winning. When the bank wins, there is no glee since the croupier is merely doing her job, according to the rules coldly laid out on the sign on the table.

As an Asian, I'll never quite understand the appeal of a fruit machine. It seems utterly cold and hence boring. A mechanical processor that swallows your coin or token and rarely returns anything more than a pittance. At Genting, the big jackpots always seem to be hit by punters in the wee hours (more reason still to like late night gambling?). For those lucky winners, their photo would summarily be shot and pasted near the cluster from which they won, their eyes blacked out criminal style. Maybe there is more than meets the eye, that 'legalized' gambling can only be an obfuscation of oficialdom, a bid to make 'halal' that which is patently criminal in God's eye for the purpose of lining the state's coffers?

I guess I will always carry on, inside my head, this debate about the good and bad of legalized gambling. My lttle 'devil' says that, since people are going to make bets one way or another, might as well part some of the punters' money for the greater good, in the form of taxes upon the casino. Legal gambling, after all, is regulated and therefore removed from the brawl and hucksterism associated with the non-legal variety of gaming. The 'angel' would have none of it, as even the allegedly milder forms of gambling offered by the casino have led to broken families and flight from loan sharks. For my part, I think that since this thing is here already, let us have it. Methinks that no matter how bad it might be, our version of fun and games is still much less horrid than the Roman concept of entertainment.

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