Casino Spelunking

Las Vegas is a metropolis built on commerce, in a state where everything is for sale. As a newly-minted resident of Nevada it’s my duty to explore the casinos. Gambling is not my strong suit, so the casinos are more of a curiosity than a compulsion. Delving into a den of dollars is uncomplicated. Casinos are user-friendly. One simply walks into a total scene, and with little effort one can be part of the action. A quiet casino is off-putting and sad; with the unbusy dealers looking captive yet predatory. A crowded casino is intoxicating. A lot is happening. People are smoking, yet it’s somehow tolerable to me and  the pink-lung crowd. Wall-to-wall machines emit a stream of super-orchestrated sounds, yet one can carry on a conversation. Low lighting lets the saturated colors rise off of the screens, as the weird and familiar images vie for attention. Not simply flashy monoliths, the machines are plastered with catchy themes and pop culture stars, and fitted with comfortable chairs. All of this stimulus is aimed at hypnotizing the obliging player, the lump of flesh who sat down in the web of chance. Smoke and mirrors are on a roll. Famously, there are no clocks in the casino, you are free from the normal constraints of life. At the tables it’s common to see a lot of animated body language and shouting, like a sports event. After all, each gambler is a winner or a loser or worse, neither. Casinos reward gambling with free drinks, hotel stays, levels of status and highfalutin perks. Shiny casino cards are issued to track the gambler’s every move and tally rewards. Free will is the underdog here, all effort is put into gaming time and, mostly, money from the player to the house. Gambling = Time x Money. Players do win, however, and it’s fun to see the dream come true, it’s the best kind of vicarious thrill. Some amount of winning is the casino’s best tool- burnishing the veneer of fresh hope paired with the dream of capturing piles and piles of cash money.

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