Another bucket list entry ticked off. I can now add my view of Las Vegas to The Hangover (first one, I’ve got taste) and Rain Man. Late-night debauchery, copious shots, seedy casino trawls, blackjack wins, memory blanks… and the films aren’t bad, either… thanks, I’m here all week.
The gambling issue, of course, has been a hot potato in Bermuda for some time and the decision to allow cruise ship casinos to stay open while in port says more about the island’s financial state than anything else. While we’re not exactly throwing our doors wide open to the gambling hordes, we have nudged the door ajar. At the other end of the spectrum is, of course, Sin City, which makes sure — like Kevin Spacey’s film character – it doesn’t leave any of the seven deadly ones out.
Everything about Vegas is designed to appeal to this gene. Room upgrade sir? Why, yes. Money off vouchers? Yes, please. Free beer? Hell, yes. A bet? Sure, here’s 50 bucks. Double your money? Don’t mind if I do. You lost, Sir. What? Thanks for your contribution to MGM Resorts International’s $8 billion annual revenue. Sh*t.
Money gone — but no-one wants to leave a casino a loser. So the weak among us ‘chase’ the bets in the unbridled conviction one good hand/spin of the wheel will erase all debts and put you up for the day. Yeah, whatever…I’ll let you know when that happens.
A rage-fuelled lunge towards the dealer, a swift right jab followed by a perfectly-executed headbutt and, simultaneously, a grab for the chips you just squandered, screaming ‘that was my money, you XXXX’. This prospect explains why half the dealers (all in Fremont Street) are ‘dancers’. Even the drunkest, most bitter loser couldn’t spark out a pretty girl in her sequinned bra, right?
12pm: Man sits down next to me at the slot machines wearing a woolly jumper, New Balance trainers circa 1990 and with a trail of saliva running down his chin. 9pm: he was still there.
No comment, although I can confirm this DID NOT involve the Thunder from Down Under.
To the Armani suits cruising around the casino trailed by a gaggle of models and joking around at the $1,000 minimum-hand tables like they were simply killing time and not their life savings, I don’t know if you were the real deal or faking but I wanted to be you for the night.
All-you-can-eat is not a new concept but surely nowhere else has $16 buffets so closely resembling troughs. I’m not judging, either. I sampled everything…each night…twice — even the salad.
There’s a reason Vegas grew out of the desert. It’s where people can go to indulge, live a little and, in some cases, forget.
Gambling is at the heart of this and its profits feed the city. There’s nothing wrong with that, in my view. I had a great trip.
But for Bermuda to open her arms to the gambling culture would undeniably alter the island, forever. I understand why we’re treading a careful line and we should continue to do so. Now how many chips have I got left?