Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gambling advice for the inexperienced.

There's no debate; times are tough.

Unemployment is teetering on ten percent, income disparity has expanded to levels unseen since the nineteenth century's Gilded Age and the American economy is dipping her toes into a second, frigid recessional pool.

Oh, and one other thing: Vegas is suffering—big time.

I know, I know. And I'm sorry to add to your worries, but someone's got to stand up for that little wide spot in Nevada's Interstate 15 commonly known as "Sin City."

And it's not Vegas's fault, either. The lockout instituted by the National Basketball Association, which now has extended into the season's inaugural two weeks, is causing the MGM to feel less than grand.

According to USA Today, the city's sports books are due to experience a fifteen to eighteen percent reduction in betting action due to the labor impasse between the human redwoods and the human deadwoods. That’s a lot of cash.

So many parties are inflicting so much pain on each other here, it’s like Thanksgiving at the Lohans.' The millionaire players refuse to acquiesce on a fifty-fifty split of revenue and, before too long, will be scrambling to scrape together payments their for Maseratis, masseuses and mistresses. And XBox upgrades? Out of the question.

Stay strong, players. Although I’m not standing in your size seventeen shoes, I can only imagine your hardship.

The teams’ owners are also in a tough spot, and I wish them godspeed during this arduous journey. After securing sweetheart deals to build and maintain their teams’ arenas at public expense while reaping all proceeds, these benevolent patriarchs have discovered that they’re paying the players too highly. Profits aren’t at an acceptable level and expenses must be reined in.

Our local and state governments reached this epiphany about overpaid teachers long ago, and Lord knows their houses are in order.

But I digress. Let’s address those members of the suffering masses who are truly reeling from the NBA lockout— the casino sports gambling operations.  Have you ever visited a sports book? I have, once.

Last winter, during my family’s wholesome Las Vegas vacation, my wife and daughters dropped me off at Mandalay Bay to place a couple of wagers while they visited some super duper outlet mall. Apparently, not a lot of sports betting happens on Thursday afternoons in late February. I nervously approached the long, narrow desk, fully lined with idle bet takers. They stood in an expansive row below a massive wall of digital match-ups, odds and live feeds of sporting events.

Since all were available and I wasn’t sure how to proceed, I chose the friendliest looking employee— a shorter, youngish woman in a white blouse and maroon vest.

“Hi.” I waited for a reply. Nothing. “I’d like to put five dollars on Duke to win the national championship of college basketball.”

What the hell? When had I started talking like this? I sounded like an eight-year-old who was too smart to communicate with people and insisted on wearing his favorite shirt every day.

She glared at me like she had a long hair stuck to the back of her tongue and was unable to snag it. “I’m sorry, sir. The minimum bet is ten dollars.”

“Oh, okay,” Thinkofsomethingfunny, thinkofsomethingfunny. That’s how my brain works when I’m uncomfortable.

“Okay, ten dollars, then. I hope the Blue Devils are worth that much green.”

My face immediately flushed as the public address announcer in my mind spoke. “You, sir, are a massive idiot. Stop talking forever. I mean it. Never talk again.”

I thanked her, collected my ticket and disappeared into the cavernous casino. Briefly glancing back from a safe distance, I absorbed the perfectly spaced line of gambling attendants, staring ahead as before...

...with the exception of one, who ever so subtly shook her head.

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