The House Always Wins: My Recent Trip to Sin City

For my first vacation in over two years—non-wedding or holiday related—I decided to visit my grandparents in Las Vegas. I’d never been to Sin City, and I really never felt the need to visit until they moved there in 2011. I wanted to see my grandma for Mother’s Day, not only because I missed her, but also because I needed a distraction from Mother’s Day.

My mom passed away on May 7, 2012, making Mother’s Day always that much more difficult for me. Jeff’s mom passed away in 2008. Mother’s Day is a rough day.

On the plane, I found myself looking out the window over the deserted land of the West thinking that I was not the first person to escape to Las Vegas to distract from pain. In fact, I found a lot of people that moved to Las Vegas for just that reason. To escape. To forget. And for hope. I found Las Vegas, a city of endless bright lights, chances to win and glamour for days, to be a city of sadness and desolation at its core. Daytime on the Las Vegas Strip is extremely sobering, especially in the casinos. Tales of jumpers who bet their second mortgage on a hand in poker echoed in my ears as I walked down Flamingo Avenue. I couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry for this town and its people—The same people waiting in line in the casino to cash their paycheck and gamble it all away in less than a few hours, all for the hope, the chance that this could be their lucky day. It felt hollow in some parts of the city to me.

It was certainly fun to play the slots and bet some spending money. I won a few times. And then I lost many more times. Every person I ran into told me a story to the tune of Las Vegas will “break your heart” or “eat you alive” or both. Even the ATM machines in the casinos had “Think. Be responsible.” on the screens. I can certainly see the temptation, because everything you could ever need at a casino is right there. But I kept my head on straight, took the advice of the trusty ATM and did NOT spend my entire paycheck and savings account on the slots. I knew the odds. The house always wins. I also noticed that along with every sign for a casino or a promise of special multipliers and progressive machines, there was a low rate payday advance loan advertisement or two close by. Nearly every other commercial addressed cash-strapped Las Vegans by offering even lower fees and interest rates on payday loans and cash advances. Get a car for $0 and no credit history! Next to: Win Big with 2X Multiplier Points and Casino Rewards Sunday-Only! And, oh, the crab legs…

It seemed like the majority of those living in Las Vegas were always paying catch-up, always a paycheck or payment behind and always one chip short. Of course, these observations were just fleeting thoughts that peppered over the course of the week. Las Vegas was really fun, I promise! And seeing my family was the cherry on top of the glitter-dusted sundae. My recommendations for a first time trip to Las Vegas include: 1) Keep the trip short, 2) Set a limit and stick to it, and 3) Don’t forget to have fun. Please, have fun and let loose. Just, please…Think. Be Responsible.

Have you ever blown-it all on a hand of cards or slot machine?

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