Gambling a sad state of affairs - Justin Boron

The gambling industry was once a sleazy, back alley paradise for brutes, conmen, and thieves. Then, it turned corrupt.

The business of fate and fortune is in an embarrassing state nowadays. It has become the afterthought of a few keystrokes on a computer and the gold mine for overseas companies whose employees don't deal cards, serve drinks in risqué dresses, or peer through extraneously placed security cameras. Instead, they work as annoying salesmen in cheap suits, sitting at desks and using catchy sales pitches over the phone to turn some unsuspecting college freshman onto a sucker's bet on Thanksgiving Day.

Similarly, a good cross section of the gaming industry's patrons aren't rolling dice beneath plastic palm trees and inhaling the scent of “high-grade Formica,” as one important but deceased Las Vegas expert once described a casino.

They're at the helm of the gambling world from their laptop computers and home-office PCs being cheated by the instincts of Wall Street investors and a little MIT-level arithmetic.

A triumphant industry, once untouched by God and the corporate mainstream, has fallen from its own offbeat sense of grace.

The plane hit the mountain with the advent of online gambling, and the ensuing avalanche covered us all. Even I, duped by attractive digital graphics and interactive dealers, tested the treacherous slope of online gambling. And I slipped.

Trying hard to stand my ground, I would repeatedly tell myself that this was just a temporary replacement for the real thing. Just a quick fix until the next live game came together. But inevitably, the virtual rounders and Internet sports bookies had their hooks in me. That was all I did in my free time for awhile.

It was a mortal sin, and one that the Poker Gods and Lady Luck probably will never forgive.

I'll try and do my fair share of penance this Christmas when I visit Vegas for the first time in almost two years. I'll place my bets and lose them, but I'll do it with a quiet sense of peace, knowing that I'm hopefully contributing to the renaissance of casino culture.

James Joyce said “a man's errors are his portals of discovery.” I wish it was that easy with the a casino.

Unfortunately, fate is much more fickle.

Gamblers can make every correct decision and still walk away from the casino with that vacuous feeling of loss. Meanwhile, she will reward some fool fresh off the boat with a glorious win.

Look no further than “Swingers” to learn this. In Blackjack, you always split Aces. But Mikey quickly found that a perfect playing style is not necessarily an ingredient for success.

The same is true, I assume, for my misguided attempt to replace real live luck with a cheap, digitalized imitation. I probably won't be rewarded for recognizing this mistake.

But hopefully, other gamblers and I will at least learn the important lesson that corporations, mathematical computer matrices, and hackers are no substitute for the up and down, sometimes irrational pattern of the real thing.

Justin Boron is the government reporter for the News Daily. His column appears Monday. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 or jboron@news-daily.com .