A man walks into the casino for the first time, smiling, even as he looks a little unsure; he asks about different games, takes out a couple hundred dollars and starts to tentatively play a game, he is relaxed, asks for a drink, he is having fun. Even when he loses, he takes it in stride.
He comes back two days later, a little more sure footed, he has a favourite game now, he goes straight to that table, throws his money with money confidence, handles his chips more like someone who knows where he is, and exactly what he is doing… maybe he’s meaner now, maybe he insults the dealer with every hand he loses, or maybe he’s just a nice guy who now knows and is friendly with all the dealers, he doesn’t get mad when he loses, he still just takes it in stride, he’s here to have fun afterall.
Maybe at the beginning, he only comes a few days in a month, he’s not a regular gambler, not yet… but then, his visits start to get more frequent, his bets start to get bigger, he wins a few times and get reckless… his life becomes like an exhilarating rollercoaster ride, he doesn’t go home, he stays in the casino day and night, living off of coffee and cigarettes and no sleep but he just can’t tear himself away.
He blends into the casino life, he becomes a fixture, someone you always expect to be there… and then inevitably, he crashes, the money all goes away, maybe he loses his job, maybe he’s used his house and businesses as collateral to get loans, maybe he owes a huge debt to the casino.
Then one day, you get to work and see this highroller begging some other player for a 25Euro chip, so, he can make a bet. Now, he doesn’t go home, not because he’s chasing the high but probably because he’s trying to escape the low.
There is one player here who fits this description perfectly; I really used to like and respect him but in the past couple weeks, he become a shadow of himself and it happened to quickly, it’s extremely startling. Yesterday, I saw him sitting here, looking like he was homeless, he obviously hadn’t been out of the casino in days…now, I just feel sorry for him.
To truly understand what addiction is, one simply has to visit a casino, and see first hand how it happens gradually, addiction is like a spirit that drags people in slowly and teasingly and never lets go, even after they’ve lost everything, it just keeps dragging and dragging and these people get to a point where they’ll do anything to get a small fix.
I once had a woman crying while giving me money to change into chips, she had lost so much money that day and still couldn’t stop. One of the most ironic/funniest situations I’ve ever seen was a psychology student who started coming here because he was writing a paper on the processes and effects of addiction and after the first week, he became his paper.
In my opinion, seeing the effects of gambling addiction on players is one of the saddest aspects of the job.
©Adeola Matemilola 2016
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