Evidently, People will bet on anything that is an ongoing event with a well defined, limited possible conclusions. I am on the outside looking in, but from this point of view it appears that the potential outcomes must be definite and not open ended, so people know how to bet. Win, lose, tie. Number of points ahead or behind. Late, early or on time. It is only exciting if the outcome is not known, although it is profitable to cheat, but cheating takes the excitement out of it, changes the game from gambling (chance) to theft (certainty). The internet is perfectly fine because I guess you don’t have to be a participant in the action to enjoy the action. Here in Honolulu there are dingy game rooms that are supposedly illegal but everyone says they operate with the bought and paid for consent of the powers that be. I have been to the game rooms. They are totally unappealing. The fact that I can’t imagine myself getting caught up in the game rooms is the main reason why I don’t gamble. I will explain.
Gambling In Hawaii Seems Unappealing, That’s Why I Don’t Do It
Game rooms are nondescript store fronts in commercial areas. They don’t have a sign that says “Game Room,” but they are not really hidden. You’d have to know what you are looking for, There is always a camera system monitored by large men who open the door for you if they recognize you. Some are small, like a quarter of the size of a 7-11. I have seen others that are large, the size of two or three 7-11’s. There always have a couch or two for people to sit on when they are not playing. The perimeter is lined with slot machine video games. Even from the outside you can hear the constant pressing of buttons, banging really. People sit on stools to play the slot games, but it appears that the real money is made by the large games that are the size of pool tables. People say these are the “fish games.” The poor quality graphics remind me of the Atari Ms. Pacman I had in the 1980’s. The object is to shoot the various fish that swim by, but the real money is won by hitting the huge fish. People who live in game rooms, and they virtually do live there, swear that there is strategy to the games, that they are hitting the buttons and making something happen rather than the machine chooses when one of the shots takes out a fish. I don’t know but I am skeptical of strategy. Someone who was once one of the most successful contractors in the state (if I told you his business locals would know who he is), he told me that in Vegas the Gaming Commission requires that the machines give back 90% of the money they take in. Here in Hawaii the unregulated machines keep 60% of the winnings. I once stood beside him and watched him feed one hundred dollar bill after another into a machine that did not ever register progress, as far as I could see. The machine will say you are winning, you are up, the dollar amounts keep climbling and if you quit while you are ahead and cash out, you’ll be ok. But people usually, as they say “give it back.” They put their winnings from cashing out back into the machine or they don’t cash out at all and watch the numbers go up, up, up and then crash. It’s like watching the stocks you invest in decline, but the rise and fall happens as you watch, and people have the feeling they can do something to correct reversals. No one wants to play with me around because I won’t give the $100 I am told you have to start with. I don’t believe I will win and therefore any money I put into the jingling machine with its flashing lights is “scared money.” Everyone knows scared money is lost money. Game rooms are the domain of crystal meth, or “ice.” There’s always someone selling ice. There are always people smoking ice in the bathroom or nodded out after days of not sleeping, sitting on a toilet, ice pipe still firmly clutched in their semi-conscious hand. There’s always a watchful person taking in the money, usually an older Asian woman people call the “mama-san” whether that’s culturally appropriate or not.
People Win All The Time
No one I have encountered has ever known anyone in Hawaii that has caught COVID-19. But everyone I know who goes to the game room has won. Everyone. $50, $100, $1500, $6500, $19,000, $27000. In a nutshell, if you play often enough you will win because the computer is programmed to let people win based on some program or algorithm, which is why I doubt that strategy factors in to a person’s success at hitting the fish. The winning is the hook. I have never won anything, and so I speak from experience when I say that losing is not addictive. Losing does not create a desire within to lose again and lose yet again. There is no relentless craving to lose that is stoked by repetitive thoughts that replay the loss. Thoughts of losing don’t overwhelm me so that there is nothing I can do to make it stop but just go back and get it over with. Maybe then I will have some peace. Drug addiction is like that, losing at gambling is not. Yet I don’t go back to the game rooms. I am not generally a lucky person but maybe even I would win if I put in thousands. Do I try it out? I do not. Game rooms are powerful and I respect that power.
Game rooms are usually visually off putting, with all the unwashed people taking birdbaths in the bathroom sinks and the odd bed bug crawling into the crevices of the machines. Why do I fear the power of yucky places like that? Because too many people are too caught up to make gambling addiction imaginary. The fact that people are drawn to such places shows me their power. The beauty of being a mature person who is honest with herself is that I know I am eligible to be snared by the unimaginable. Young people, maybe all people, think they are invulnerable. If we humans knew how truly vulnerable we are to any and every catastrophe whether we are sitting still, sleeping, or driving, or whatever, the fear might incapacitate us. I do not ponder my chances of a blood vessel in my brain bursting, that would be pointless. I assume I am fine because what else can I do? But I do not assume I will be fine if I actually win and feel the euphoria some people describe as better than sex. I can’t imagine falling victim to gambling but just because I can’t imagine the threat doesn’t make the threat unreal.
One hallmark of addiction is that the once inconceivable becomes routine, even humdrum.
A person who never thought she would ever, ever work as a prostitute can now say to someone: “Wait for me here while I do this. I’m going to go get this money real quick and then we can go get that. I will be back in like, 8 minutes.”
When it comes to gambling, I don’t even dabble.