I’m trying something new. I’m starting a list of my lifetime gambling earnings. I’ve listed every time I’ve been to a casino, how much I brought with me, and how much I brought home.
To date, I’m down $35.
Too many times I’ve heard somebody bragging about their luck with the one-armed bandit. “I made $4000!” or “The longer I play, the luckier I get!” This is obviously false, but I’ve heard it so many times that I had to start a list just to prove I’m not losing my sanity.
Casinos are not in the business of giving away money; they are in the business of making money. The are no different than any other corporation in this regard. The difference is, they make you think you’re going to hook the big one, and the possibility that the next round might be the big one is what keeps you hooked. But you’re not the only one hooked.
Next time you visit a casino, take a look around at the opulence displayed. It’ll blow your mind trying to figure out how much a casino makes. The fact is, casinos only keep a small percentage of all money that comes in their doors. But visiting the average casino would make you think they are doing quite well, thank you. So many people visit casinos each year that they don’t have any trouble keeping the doors open.
Back to my list. It’s pretty obvious I’m not making any money. Every time I’ve been to a casino, I’ve brought with me a certain amount of money, usually a couple rolls of quarters. But the quarters didn’t just disappear. Sometimes I actually got some back. Nothing like the loud clang of quarters hitting the metal tray to make your jaw drop. “Why, I did so good, I think I’ll try it again!” And so it goes. Each time you play, you get a little back, but not as much as the time before. Although your roll of quarters lasted a while, it’s eventually completely gone.
Quick! When is gambling really a tax? When it’s state-sponsored, of course. The lottery has been called a tax on people who are bad a math, but it is a tax nonetheless. I have purchased my share of lottery tickets in the past. In fact, it’s too many to remember, so I haven’t added them to my list. Suffice it to say, I haven’t made much on them, either. I will be adding all future lottery purchases to my list.
I’ve made my spreadsheet public. Email me if you’d like to see it. Also, consider this a challenge. Keep your own list of earnings, and if you don’t mind, please share your bottom line with me. I’d like to see some results from winners as well as losers.
This article originally appeared in the June 25, 2008, edition of the Greenhorn Valley View.