Last week, my coworker and I decided to celebrate the end of a field job by going to a casino in Lake Charles. I’ve never pegged myself as a gambling type, but it seemed like a fun experience. Plus, I’m not gonna lie, y’all – I get ridiculously excited every time I get to cross a state border. If you could still be in the same state after driving for 8 hours, you’d get excited about crossing state borders too.
We crossed the Sabine River and entered Louisiana; I kept my squee to myself. It was dark, so I couldn’t see too much scenery except the shadows of the trees. We reached Lake Charles in no time and went inside one of the casinos. “So…this is it,” my coworker said, then hurriedly continued, “It’s not Vegas or anything.”
That was obvious. Granted, we were going on a weekday night, which could explain the relative dearth of people in the lobbies. When we walked into a buffet, it was clear the demographic was an average 30 years older than we were.
We walked around the casino for a bit. I saw an alarming number of Gambling Addicts Anonymous signs with a toll-free number you can use to call for help. I felt like these signs were the equivalent to talking to an alcoholic about going AA over a round of drinks, or putting “HEY MAYBE YOU SHOULDN’T SMOKE BECAUSE IT’S BAD FOR YOU” warnings on cigarette cartons, but okay.
There were some Mardi Gras outfits on display. My coworker recommended that I pose in one, resulting in one of the most awkward poses you will see me do:
After eating our meal, we walked into one of rooms. My coworker loves card games and immediately went to the Blackjack table. I watched her for awhile. She’s very good at it and won $30. “Jen, I need to quit while I’m ahead,” she said after happily collecting her chips. “Want to try?”
I’d told myself I was only going to spend a maximum of $20, so I put that on the table. After losing $15, I got up and decided to try the slot machines. The slot machines were alright. I liked them more than the card games, and I won a couple of dollars. But eventually, I started winning less money. I couldn’t stop myself from thinking, “This is pretty stupid,” after awhile. All I was doing was pulling a lever.
Maybe gambling would be more fun in a better atmosphere, like I’m assuming one that Vegas has. This particular casino had a very seedy look to it, and its clientele seemed despondent. I felt like my relatively youthful innocence was out of place around the jaded vibe. I couldn’t help feeling sad as I looked the depressed faces of people who looked like they had given up.
Despite my quibbles, I still enjoyed the experience. I didn’t spend more than my $20, I won like $6, and can say I spent the evening in another state. It’s just not something I see myself really enjoying much in the future…though I would like to see Vegas.