For my eldest sons 21st birthday my wife and I took him up to Black Hawk/Central City, Colorado to gamble. Nope, no alcohol; I am a cool dad just not that cool. He can buy his own beer. He has always been fascinated by games of chance, we used to play cards a lot, when he was little, and there is a certain allure to Casinos that is compelling to teenagers. However, the attraction was mostly out of curiosity. We as a family used to do a bit of travel through Nevada my sons have been exposed to gambling. Most of this exposure was walking through a casino floor on the way to our hotel rooms, but they were too young to play or even watch closely. So to help show him how dumb gambling is we took him to an Indian gaming casino in Black Hawk. We did not however see anything even remotely resembling Native American culture. It did however; give him an excellent view of blue haired, chain smoking, Budweiser swilling, American culture. I was actually surprised to see how many old people were drinking Bud longnecks at noon on Sunday. I have been to Wendover, Las Vegas, and Reno and I have never seen a place so dedicated to drinking and gambling as Black Hawk. It took us over a half an hour just to find a place to eat. As far as I could tell there was no gas stations, no souvenir shops, no shows, few restaurants, and nothing to do but gamble and drink. I did some research online and I guess we should have continued up the road to Central City and left Black Hawk behind. A half day late and a dollar short as usual.
The one nice thing I can say is the exterior of the casinos were tastefully done, they kept with the tranquil scenery and rugged stone look of the Rocky Mountains. It looks like local material went into each building. Until you step inside. Once inside, it looked like the place was decorated by what was removed a Wendover Casino during a remodel. The carpet tried to keep with the mining and old west theme, but lost itself in colors that can only adorn Vegas casinos, and pre school cartoons. Pink tracks and day glow green gears were the rule rather than the exception. The smell of cigarette smoke, old spice, and lavoris was prevalent as we opened the doors to enter the Canyon Casino. The first thing I noticed was besides the din of slot machines and the smell was the average age of the guests. I am guessing that the average age would be around 50, simply because there were quite a few college age kids up to gamble and drink. Most of the occupants judging by looks were in their mid 70s. Nothing wrong with that but I found it amusing that the only people that were in the age group that makes up the vast majority of productive citizens were my wife and I and the people running the tables.
I don’t gamble. I will on occasion feed coins into machines while my wife gambles. But I don’t count that as gambling, it’s paying for entertainment. So while my wife and son were pumping dollars (nickels) into the machines hoping for some kind of return, I was watching the people and laughing (inside) at some of the some of the most outrageous excuses for slot machines I have ever seen. I saw one called “Dam Lumberjack Beavers” I just had to sit down to play. The sound effects and voice of the Beavers sounded just like Joe Cartoon. This insight, however, did not help me in anyway. This machine did not pay me one IOTA. It ate $5.00 and didn’t even blink. Then I saw what could be the most appropriate named slot machine on the entire planet. Lucky Lemmings I am not making this up, here is a picture:
Lemmings to me are kind of a metaphor for all the geezers who take the white bus up from Denver to Black hawk to blow their grand kids inheritance. It’s their choice, and I am all for the freedom for anyone to set fire of their money. But blowing it one coin at a time on a machine called Lucky Lemmings is just too ironic to pass up. It was fortunate that all the machines were being used, other wise I would have played one. The animation of lemmings jumping off a cliff, bouncing off a Walrus’s ass, and landing on an ice mountain, then exploding into dollar bills was simply mesmerizing. I would have lost all my money.
Now I won’t begrudge all gambling as silly wastes of time. I am sure that card games, roulette, and other games of chance can be considered to be a form of adult entertainment. And I am glad that I live in a country where we have the freedom to place bets upon the fortunes of a video cartoon lemming. With that said, I just hope that when I am in my 70s I have better things to do with my children’s inheritance than bet on how many lumberjack beavers I can line up in a row. There just has to be a more dignified way to blow your savings.