I am in Vegas this week to visit my son, granddaughter and loved ones. I usually make it to Vegas once a year for a vacation to visit family. I’m not sure where my thoughts are going on this post since it’s a topic that I’m just simply curious about. But I often wonder why we are the way we are and do the things we do. Not that I have the answers because I don’t, but I like to dive deeper into things.
A lot of people like to gamble. Whether it’s lottery tickets, bingo, slot machines, card games, or even raffle tickets. That poses these questions:
- Does it have to do with our upbringing and games we used to play?
- Did our parents gamble and did we learn from them?
- Do we just think it’s exciting and fun?
- If we win once, does that thrill cause us to continue to play?
- Do we play because we honestly believe we will win big someday?
- Is it an addictive behavior?
Gambling Memories of my Mother
My mother loved to gamble. My mother, grandmother and great aunt used to take me to play bingo. The first time I ever went with them I was in my twenties, and I won two games. Actually three games, but I didn’t call the last game in time because I didn’t realize I had a winning card. I was just learning so I was slow. I also won $75 on what they called a “pull tab”, which is another type of game found at most bingo halls. You can buy these while you’re playing bingo and they run anywhere from $0.25 to $1 per ticket. That first time “gambling” made an impression on me, especially because I won. I remember feeling the thrill of winning and taking home that cash. The feeling gave me the desire to play again – it was exciting!
When I was a young adult, my mother would plan weekend getaways at least once a year with my grandma and grandpa to go to Vegas, Laughlin, or Stateline. We would share the cost of a hotel room and a rental car, so it made it easier for all of us to go since we were not a wealthy family. My Mom and I worked hard, we paid our bills, and we liked to get away and have fun too.
Mom and I would walk around the casino and play slots, sitting side by side for hours. Back then we used real coins. I remember walking up to the hotel room with her laughing as we looked at our dirty hands from touching all the money. Those are memories of my mom and I that I cherish. It wasn’t just the gambling, but having that special time with each other. Plus, we love the buffets!
Mom and I only took the money we could gamble with and that was all we would use. We didn’t go overboard.
Gambling Memories of my Father
With my father it was very different. I never went to the casinos with him as an adult. But when I was a teenager, I remember he and my stepmother would go for the weekend to Vegas. My father was on disability and sometimes he’d get money from a lawsuit. He sued companies he worked for and ended up with a chunk of cash every so often. When he got money from a lawsuit he would go to Vegas and stay in nice hotels and play at the card table. Sometimes we would go as a family, and we would stay at Circus Circus. My younger brother, stepsister and I would play the kid games upstairs while they gambled downstairs.
When I think about my father and his desire to gamble, it doesn’t bring great memories. He never seemed to have any money, and when he had money from a lawsuit, I think he should have used it in better ways. I remember how he struggled financially. He would borrow from his mother, me, or whoever would lend him money. He’d take items to the pawnshop to pay rent. That type of stuff. I realize some of us may have to do things like this because times are tough so no judgment here. But where it concerned my father, I saw how he struggled and how fast his money went when he did get money. It just didn’t make sense to me that he would be so wasteful and use it to gamble.
So now I’ll talk about my gambling. Aside from my bingo win as an adult, I have memories of experiencing the thrill of so-called “gambling” when I was 10 years old. I went to the ice cream truck and bought a Charms Sweet & Sour sucker for 5 cents. When I peeled off the wrapper it had a cold sticker stuck on it and the ice cream man told me that I get a “free” sucker. I had one of the special ones that had the gold sticker on it (yes, just like Willie Wonka). I got so excited that I got two suckers for the price of one that I used the rest of my allowance to buy more suckers. I did not get another gold special one, but I did end up with a bunch of suckers.
Present day. I love to gamble and go once or twice a year. I don’t go to bingo anymore since mom’s passing. It just didn’t feel the same when I tried to go to bingo by myself. I would think about her and how she wasn’t with me anymore and it brought sadness. So, I just don’t go and haven’t gone in years…
I like to play the slots and I have fun roaming the casino, watching people, and just being free of all responsibilities like work, family, and home. If I put $20 in the slot and it gets eaten up, that kind of sucks. But oftentimes I could take a $20 bill and make it last for hours. That is when it’s fun. I don’t have to win but I want my money to last when I play.
For me, playing slots doesn’t have to be in a casino. I’ve played slot games on my cell phone where there’s no money to be lost and I rake in the pretend coins. So, is it really about winning money? Or do some of us just like to play slot machines whether real or fake?
I wasn’t sure where my thoughts were going to lead me in this post but my original question was: Why we are the way we are and do the things we do? This question evolved into: Why do some people like to gamble, and some don’t?
Is it upbringing? Or is it just our personality type? I have two kids that like to gamble when they get a chance and one that has never gambled and doesn’t care to. The one that doesn’t have the desire told me that she would rather buy a pair of shoes or go to a concert than waste her money in a slot machine.
For some people, the desire to win is so consuming that they may not be able to stop themselves. They will use all their money just in hopes that that next pull or roll of the dice is going to be the win for them. They use money that would go to rent, utilities, and necessities to live. Just for another shot at winning it big. This is when it is a problem. This is when it could turn into addiction.
Like in Hunger Games, “may the odds ever be in your favor,” they are probably not going to be. The chances of winning are not in your favor and more in the house’s favor. For a big slot win the chances are more like 1 in 5,000.
With my upbringing and exposure to gambling, I think it gave me a very realistic and responsible view because I saw both the good and the bad. It is such a stark contrast between the fond memories I had with my mother and the irresponsible behavior I witnessed of my father. This week I am going to enjoy my vacation and visit my son, granddaughter and loved ones. I’m going to eat tasty food and maybe see a show. And yes, I will do a little gambling. My reason is because I like to gamble, it’s quite simply – fun.