So a few months back I made a trip to the Rivers Casino in Des Plaines, Illinois. If you’ve ever been to a casino before you know the place is mobbed and full of people ‘down on their luck.’ Am I right? (Insert audience groan here). So I had promised myself before I went in that I was only going to spend $25-50. I didn’t want to risk it. As soon as I walked through the doors, I could smell it in the air. Failure. It was everywhere. I could taste it. As I walked down the black and red checkered carpet, a beaver brown Volkswagen Bug sat at the end of the path under a ‘YOU COULD WIN THIS!’ sign. If I had won that I would have asked them to keep it. Going down the escalator, those coming up had faces of horror and pain. Either there was a ghost loose somewhere in the casino, scaring the living hell out of these people, or they’d just lost their life savings. I stood in line with my ID in hand fantasizing about winning it all. The big score. Putting a quarter in and winning a million dollars. all to the tune of “Roll with it” by Steve Winwood. I wanted to be a real-life Nick Papagiorgio. The front entrance agent/gatekeeper held my ID in his hand for a good 2 minutes studying it. He’d look down then back up at me. He held out the card right next to my face and then looked around. I’m 24 years old, but still felt like I was trying to pull a fast one on the guy. He let me by.
I walked down the isles looking around taking in the sites and sounds. This casino is unlike the ones in Vegas. In Vegas people are losing their asses, but it doesn’t really show. Most likely because people get up and go to another casino next store. In this case, there was no where for these people to go besides home. Hell on Earth. People stared at their machines like mindless drones inserting coins and pulling levers. Some pushed buttons instead. Lazies. The place was packed, but no one was there. My friends and I sat down at a 25 cent slot machine after surveying the area. The machine had a pay-out upwards of $300 if you won. Within 30 seconds of sitting down, all of my money was gone. I had put in $20. Imagine me not even getting to pull the lever. I just insert the $20 and then nothing happens. That’s what it felt like. After going to the ATM and returning to the same blood thirsty machine, it happened again. It was an endless loop. Memento. $40 in the hole, I decided to take a break and watch my friends get a taste of the nonsense. As I sat there slumped in the red rotating chair, I felt a nudge on my shoulder. I turned around and saw a Hispanic man and a woman looking down at me. “Are you done here?” the man asks. I inform him that I am and that this machine is as cold as ice so he shouldn’t bother. His wife says, “we’ll take our chances” while delivering a dirty look. I didn’t like these people. They were rude and abrasive. The man stared at me the entire time I got out of the chair. She sat down and put ONE quarter in. ‘Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.’ JACKPOT.