Progress. Ain't it wonderful?
Computers and the Internet were supposed to solve all of our problems when it comes to communication. They replaced the typewriter, for example. As a writer, I did not appreciate that one bit but I somehow learned to live with it.
A writer needs a certain rhythm in order to express himself the way he wants to be heard. My typewriter gave me that rhythm. True, I tossed away a lot of sheets of paper when the words came out wrong. On a computer, you simply write over the mistakes and the changes are made.
Another example of progress are the new Smart Phones. They are so complicated that I don't have one, thank you. I am content to possess my cell phone and even that is a bit too complex for me. I dial 411 for information but I don't get a live human being to answer my questions. I need to make options, to go from point A to point B and then on to point C before I hang up in disgust and desperation.
Progress without the human element simply does not seem to work.
I was thinking these thoughts as I regarded the situation casinos find themselves in these days.
Gambling casinos seem to have the best and worst of two worlds. When there are too many casinos operating, people go to their favorite ones and leave the others alone. That is the reason behind the closing of a number of casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas. People go to casinos and spend their money in a place where the casino management takes a personal interest in them.
Casinos have undergone a revolutionary change from the years shen Bugsy Siegel and the mob managed them. The days of Benny Binion, Raymond 'Pappy' Smith and Jack Binion have ended.
In the old days, casinos gave their customers a lot more for their dollar than they do today. They made their profits through gambling and didn't care much if they lost a little money giving away food, lodging or even free entertainment to their visitors.
Benny Binion's famous saying was that he gave his customers good food, good booze and good gambling. This came, of course, before the organization of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the current campaign to keep people sober. While it may have saved a few lives, it has given a lot of otherwise law-abiding Americans criminal records and even jail time.
In today's gambling world, you rarely run across an executive who comes up t you with a smile, a handshake and a 'How are you doing' attitude that Binion and Pappy Smith cultivated.
I remember one night at Downstream Casino when I lost more money than I intended. At the time I didn't have a car. I was 70 miles away from my home in Springfield, MO. and I went to the casino management hoping to get a temporary loan to get home on a Greyhound Bus.. That was the way Binion or Smith would have handled it. Boy, was I wrong.
My 'friends' at the casino turned into my enemies. Coldly they informed me they did not have a fund and that I would have to handle my escape from the casino on my own. Fortunately a patron overheard our conversation and offered me a ride back to Springfield. The hostile stares of the casino officials followed me as I made my exit from Downstream.
On a nightly basis, Benny Binion would wander around his casino and applaud slot machine winners or lucky gamblers at the dice or blackjack tables. In Reno at Harold's Club, Pappy Smith would often walk up to a blackjack table and instruct the dealer to turn over her hole card. He would do this for 10 or 15 minutes while the players took advantage of his generosity. Then he would smile and leave the table and the game would get back to normal.
Well, Benny and Pappy now belong to the ages. Their casinos and others have been sold to cold, calculating corporations that overcharge for food, drinks and hotel rooms. If you lose too much and expect a bit of financial assistance, sorry. You should have used better judgement. Better luck next time.
I don't know what the future of casinos will be. The law of supply and demand applies here and will determine where gamblers spend their money. But it would be nice to find a casino where the management takes a humanistic approach to its customers. W.C. Fields came up with the slogan, 'Never give a sucker an even break.' If that policy prevails in the gambling world, all I can say is farewell to a fascinating industry.