After mom and dad retired, they did a lot of traveling, visiting and other activities. They went south for the winter and north for the summer. One thing they almost always did was to stop in Atlantic City while driving south or north, so twice each year. When they arrived they would take a room for the night in an inexpensive hotel.
Then dad would drop mom off at a casino and he would proceed on to the beach with his metal detector. For a few hours, dad would search for treasures and mom would play the machines. Mom was not a “big time gambler” but she enjoyed playing once in a while.
Mom had a great strategy as she would bring in a $20 bill for gambling and that was it. In those days the machines were not computer machines. They were mechanical machines that took real coins. Mom played the nickel machine.
Mom always told a story about the lady next to her who was playing quarter machines. This lady was sitting by two machines and playing both simultaneously. “She couldn’t lose her money fast enough” was how mom explained it.
In the meantime mom got a couple of hours of play out of her $20 worth of nickels, one at a time in the machine. She might win a little or maybe not. But either way, when the $20 was gone or when it was time to meet dad, she was done. Then they went out to dinner and to their hotel and proceeded on the next leg of their journey the next day.
I had never been to a casino until this year and had never seen a slot machine. I had the opportunity to go with our senior center about 5 years ago, shortly after I retired. This was when I was living in my old house, hundreds of miles from here. At that time, the casino would provide a bus from the senior center to the casino about once a month. Some people would take the bus and then just walk next door to the outlet mall that was so close. In fact, I think so many people used that bus as a convenient way to get to the mall that the casino stopped providing the free bus.
However, at that time I was newly retired and had too many other things I wanted to do with my time. In the rainy season I took computer classes and photography classes at the Senior Center and in the nice weather I took trips to the beach, etc. Now, five years later, I am living in another state miles from there. We have many activities in our community and I still hadn’t thought about a casino trip.
Then, a few months ago, my friends told me about a special bus trip sponsored by a local restaurant. For $40 you went to the restaurant for breakfast and then got on a bus. On the bus they served snacks and played games and then took you to the casino about an hour away. You had about 7 hours at the casino and then the bus picked you up and took you back to the restaurant for a full dinner including steak, pasta, etc served in buffet style. In addition to the 2 meals, they gave you a casino card pre-loaded with $35 to gamble with. You almost couldn’t afford to stay home!
So a group of 10 of us from my community took this bus trip. Some had done it previously last fall. We all had a good time but it was a very long day. I left the house around 8 in the morning and got home after 8 in the evening. Maybe it was beginners luck, but I learned to use the casino machines and won enough so that my whole day was free. That is, I went home with $44 more than I went with so even my lunch was covered.
I found the casino to be fun but knew I wouldn’t want to go too often. For one thing, I prefer to be outdoors in nice weather. For another, I hate to lose money, and this is really a game of chance, stacked against the player.
The other thing I learned is that the machines are totally different now. Whereas mom put in actual nickels and had actual money pour out when she won, we played with an electronic card loaded with the money we had been given to play with. The computer machines were set to be “penny machines” or “dollar machines” or even more. Some could be set to change the amount you were betting from a penny to a nickel or a dollar or any other amount. I stuck with pennies.
One thing I learned was that depending on the machine you used and the settings you set, you could lose vast amounts of money in just minutes. I walked around a bit before I tried any machines and I could see some people betting large amounts of money. I found I could have as much fun with the penny machines, though on any bet you could choose “more lines” which got you more ways to play, and would increase your bet to 15 cents or 30 cents or much more.
A few weeks ago a friend asked if I wanted to go on another casino trip. This would be on our own, in cars, with no cost to go and no prepaid cards. I agreed to go and about 10 of us went again. This was a smaller casino with similar machines. I found these machines to be more difficult to understand and more expensive to use. Even the “penny machines” could cost 89 cents or more for a simple single play.
I found myself wishing they just had the old coin machines, though I have to admit I have never actually seen one. It just seemed that you could get more plays for your money and enjoy each one more. With these “slot machines” you usually don’t even touch money at all. But with a simple touch of the touch-screen, you could set it to play the “max” or maximum bet, of well over a dollar for each play. You could probably spend everything you have in 20 minutes or less with these computer machines.
So, yes, it is a fun day with friends. It is something I will do again, but not too often, and again I will limit the amount of money I bring along like mom always did. I will keep the bets low on “penny machines” and enjoy my day out with friends. And I will only go on days like yesterday that were too hot to be outside. In good weather, I still prefer outdoor real experiences. And on rainy days, we will still mostly play cards or read books or whatever.
This morning I did an online search for casino games and found there is a lot of information online that I should have read before ever going inside the casino. I expected the games were all the same except for images and prices. In fact, they are quite different from one another and it pays to understand the differences. I will never be a pro as this isn’t something I expect to spend a lot of time doing, but it is good to get some knowledge before playing again.
I can understand how some people become addicted to gambling, and for that I reason don’t think there should be unlimited locations to play, etc. People who know they are apt to become addicted shouldn’t play at all. There are lots of other ways to have fun with friends, indoors or out. This is just one way to have a good time.
It is funny to see that this is one more way in which I am following in mom’s footsteps. I really have modeled my retirement after my parents in more ways than I expected to.