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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

(sniff) (sniff) What's that smell? Oh, it's just despair.

Since the end of last week was filled with snow storms and such, Ms Rivers and I decided to go out for a Valentine's Day dinner a bit late this year.  The location was the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs casino, located roughly between Scranton and Wilkes-Boro.  You can link to the casino's website HERE.

Now I don't really gamble, so going to a casino isn't something I've done very often.  In fact, I can probably use up one hand and an extra finger to count up the number of times I've been to this type of establishment.  I do find them interesting though.  Here are a few general and random thoughts on this latest experience specifically, and casinos in general.
  • Smoking & Gambling - I can see why the casino operators insisted that they be given an exemption to indoor air quality rules.  Why?  Because smoking and gambling go together like, well, smoking and gambling.  Think about it (as Ms Rivers noted), the casino is probably one of the last places someone can sit indoors and smoke their lungs out.  Nothing like seeing someone blowing money twice as effectively as they could anywhere else.
  • The Smell - Despite what seems like a monster HVAC system that could probably cool Uganda, the smell of hundreds of people smoking in the casino hits you like a ton of bricks when you enter the place.  Now the casino operator does do a decent job of abating the smell in the non-smoking section, but it's still pretty much everywhere.  I feel bad for the people that work there.
  • 24/7/365 - According to our waitress, the casino at Pocono Downs never closes.  It's kind of remarkable when you think about it:  there are people there gambling at 3:30 in the morning.  I almost want to go there at 3:30am just so I can ask someone "Why the Hell are you here?".  Additionally, it makes me also wonder just what someone who is disposed to going to a casino at 3:30am did before they had a casino to go to.  
  • Money, Money, Money - And not the ABBA song* either. This place must make money hand over fist.  With the odds severely stilted against each average gambler and so many playing, I can see why casino gambling truly is the revenge of Native Americans against the White Man.  
  • "If You Have a Gambling Problem" - I love the "If you have a gambling problem..." signs that you see in a casino.  That makes about as much sense has having a "If you have an over-eating problem..." sign at an all-you-can-eat buffet.  Or a "If you have a steroid problem..." sign in a major league baseball locker room.  Or a "If you have a problem with science and rational thought..." sign at the Creation Museum.  Or a "If you have a problem wearing clothing that is grossly inappropriate while shopping..." sign at your average Walmart.  Or a "If you have bribery problem..." sign at either the Luzerne or Lackawanna County courthouse.
  • Cash Advance - You can get a cash advance at the casino.  I'm not sure how that would work, but I'm intrigued at the thought of someone actually gambling money that they didn't even have in the first place.  It's simply remarkable. There were ATMs all over the place at the casino as well, and I really wanted to see what kind of fee they would add on for the privilege of giving someone their own money.
  • The Advertisements - In the casino, you see these advertisements showing some senior citizen or poorly dressed guy holding up cash, with the tag line "Cappy from Shanty Town just won $2,000!".  Personally I'd like to see, in smaller print below that line, the following:  "Cappy lives off of his social security and a meager pension.  Cappy has gambled away over $5,000 at the casino since it opened.".  Truth in advertising.
  • The Food - One thing you can't really criticize the casino about is the food.  The dinner was had, at the Rustic Kitchen, was simply excellent.  Even their food court looked neat.  The logic is pretty smart as well:  after a hard fought few hours of playing the one-armed bandits, what better place to blow some cash than at a nice restaurant?  As Mr Spock would say, "Logical, flawlessly logical".

For the record, I'll note that I have nothing against anyone who actually wants to gamble, be that at 3:30am or any other time.  For me, it just doesn't make sense, as I simply don't find it fun or exciting to lose money hand over fist.  For others?  Well on some basic level I can understand the's must be this combination of danger, excitement at the prospect of winning and all the flashiness that abounds in the place.  Self-deception?  Well maybe, but a little bit of that isn't all that bad every once in a while.  Gambling, like most things in life, is probably okay in moderation.

(*) Since I brought it up...

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