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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Watching People In Casinos

I have an unusual hobby in which I indulge once every year or so. I people-watch in casinos, especially when I am traveling. I go there for the casino buffet which varies wildly in quality but which is dependably cheap; then after dining I find a comfortable niche with a view and take in the casino ambiance, while covertly observing people doing the various things that people do when they are gambling. Their behaviors and interactions are interesting, even entertaining to me, nothing more, nothing less.

I myself have no interest in gambling. I disapprove of the vice of gambling because it tricks people into squandering their precious resources of time, energy, money, and hope. I do not believe that there are any true wins in gambling. I also disapprove of gambling for its close association with other vices such as financial fraud, alcoholism, prostitution, and probably many other vices. So no one-armed bandits or house-rigged card games for me.

When I am in a casino I feel enticed to sit and take it in. Casinos claim that they do not pump in a little extra oxygen to give gamblers an “oxygen high” to lower their inhibitions and make them feel good so that they stay and gamble. But I can sense the slightly higher level of oxygen in casinos. I know the feeling from experience. When I used to dive, the SCUBA air tanks were sometimes enriched with just a little extra oxygen. Even a little extra oxygen in the air makes me feel carefree and comfortable. It makes me disinclined to leave the flashing lights and jingle-jangle of the casino which ordinarily would have me running for the door. I never feel the way that casinos make me feel in any other business or public setting.

Occasionally I have invited a friend to go with me to people watch in a casino. I remember the time that my former computer repairshop owner went with me. She was a tough, competent woman and took to it with devious enthusiasm. While I settled back for a nice, long look around the casino under hooded eyes, she leaned forward and blatantly pointed out a old, ugly man accosting a young, pretty girl who was seated in the casino restaurant. My friend moved her cupped hand between her mouth and ear as if she had a security guard’s shoulder radio and was calling in an incident. The couple noticed her immediately and left in a worry hurry. The girl did not even get to eat what looked like a very nice meal. Most of what I saw in casinos was not amusing.

Caption: Watching People In Casinos

collage by Annmarie Throckmorton 2018

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