I certainly don’t want to mock those with serious addictions, but this week has led me to confess that I have a gambling problem . . . and that problem is named “Mom”. My mom is an extremely bad influence on me. One would think that a 75 year old woman would be easy to control, that she might be frail and feeble. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My mom is a bulldozer, a good-hearted and optimistic bulldozer.
Let me give a little background. My mom started vacationing in Las Vegas back in 1978. She would meet her mom and sister for some family bonding, and they started a trend. I started going with them in 1994. My brother got married in Vegas. Then some of my cousins started meeting us. It became our home away from home.
A few years ago my mom asked me to move with her, so we said goodbye to Virginia and parked ourselves in Sin City. The last year and a half has been fairly uneventful. We’ve learned our way around and yes, we have found the local casinos. It’s been great! We often get free slot play, two-for-one buffet deals, and free gifts. Seriously, every Thursday, two of the local casinos give out free stuff from bottles of wine to glassware, ceramic fry pans, and steak knives. I’m not sure who picks out the items given away, but I suspect they might be practicing transference. Gamble too much? Go drink your troubles away. Wine didn’t do the trick? Here, have some knives.
Anyway, I digress. This week my mom, with her rose-colored glasses, just knew she was going to win a huge jackpot. Station Casinos has been running a Wheel of Fortune promotion. Each Station casino has a counter that starts at 10,000. Sometime before it gets to 20,000 it will hit and one lucky winner gets the dough. Everyone else playing gets free slot play. This promotion has been going on for months. No big deal.
Well, on Tuesday, we had out-of-town company and they wanted us to take them to our local casino. They could only visit for a few hours, so they followed us there. We enjoyed a nice lunch and then played the slot machines for a bit. When they left, my mom wanted to stay. She was having pretty good luck and noticed that the Wheel of Fortune counter was at 18,000, which is the highest it has been whenever we have been there.
In recent months, we have given our gambling a charitable twist. We have friends who have had their fair share of financial troubles; this last year has been really rough on them and we try to help them out whenever we can. Mom and I have both been saying that if we ever win a decent jackpot, we will give 50-70% of it to our friends. So after walking our company to their rental car, mom convinced me to head back inside. Around 6pm, I reminded her that we have a dog who might like to have his dinner. We headed home . . . but not to stay. Like I said, mom is a bad influence, and I am apparently very malleable.
At 7:30pm, my mom strutted back into the casino like a woman on a mission. Her mission was to win that jackpot. I normally take a book with me and read in the food court, but even I was suckered in this time. That darn promotion would surely hit at any time, and I wasn’t going to miss my chance. I held my own for a while, even doubled my money, and held onto it for hours. Mom was holding her own. We were fortunate enough to have found some good machines. Time passed and before I knew it, it was 3am. What! I was exhausted and now losing again. Mom too. We admitted defeat and dragged our butts home.
I didn’t get much sleep that morning. I was overtired and kept hearing the tune from the stupid “Willy Wonka” machine. My alarm got me up at 8:30am and I felt hungover. Thankfully, I work from home now; I don’t think I would have made it through the day otherwise. We had scheduled a routine service on our air-conditioner and when the guy showed up in the afternoon, he talked our ears off for hours. Not good! In addition to feeling hungover, we now both had migraines. You would think we would go back to bed the second the guy left . . . and we probably would have if it weren’t for that stupid counter. Contributing to our delinquency is the fact that you can check it online. Mom made me check it, and it was up to 19,045.
Lord help me! Mom convinced me to go back. Thankfully, I picked a good machine and played for seven hours on just $10 . . . and still no jackpot. It finally hit just before 5am. Yes, we were still there and no, that jackpot did not have our names on it. Mom got $10 in free slot play, and I got $20. All that time, effort, and money for such a paltry reward. As we staggered home and crawled into bed, the sun was already up.
I’m not sure how to describe us: dedicated, idiotic, gluttonous, gullible . . . So many words could apply. Hopefully, we both learned our lesson though. We have sworn off gambling anything other than free slot play for the remainder of the year, and I’m not sure I even want to do that. I don’t even want to partake of the two-for-one buffet. The casinos are masters of trickery. I’m scared of their bait and switch tactics. Just in case, I have bookmarked the Gamblers Anonymous website and printed out the twelve steps to recovery. Now if only I can restrain my mom!