City & Politics, Essay

Drunk and winning with the mystical unicorn

“Casinos are just giant arcades for adults, seniors and disabled people.”

Day 1 – 8 p.m.

When you approach Las Vegas from that long desolate stretch of road at the edge of the desert, electric signs come on like a slow neon wave swallowing the desert whole. Now, as I turned onto Regent Avenue at night from that desolate piece of Lagimodiere Boulevard at the edge of Transcona, a similar sort of scene was ahead of me – cascading neon signs, screaming electric signs and an endless cluster of rolling strip malls and big box stores.

I can see the giant palm trees approaching, sprouting out from under a sprawling slab of parking lot. Club Regent is not Las Vegas, but it is the closest thing to it tonight. The objective is to drink until I am zombie drunk and spend my money frivolously until I inevitably lose all of the $102.46 in my wallet.

Day 1 – 8:15 p.m.

Vomiting neon everywhere, heavy surveillance, a gauntlet of kitsch and the relentless ringing of slots – Ghostbusters slots, Wizard of Oz slots, Grease slots, Deal or No Deal Slots, *insert theme here* slots. By the time you have walked beneath the aquarium tunnel and out to the opposite side into a room that is painted to resemble Treasure Island with jungle animals and a pirate ship you are completely disoriented.

A 69-year-old woman passes a Rod Stewart & Tom Jones Tribute poster. She stares at it for a moment

“I don’t think they’re the real ones,” she says to her friend. Nothing is real here, lady. There’s a talking skeleton beside you.

An elevator lowers me down into some kind of quasi-Mayan abyss. I can hear the muted baseline of “Thriller” and as the elevator doors open in a cinematic sort of way and the music becomes louder I can see a dance floor filled with very agile 50 to 60-year-olds, many dancing in synchronization. I order two shots of tequila.

Day 1 – 10 p.m.

I am still in Jaguars mesmerized by the lunatics who are now sashaying and screaming to “Gangnam-Style.” A man in an Acapulco shirt approaches my table. I try not to make eye contact. I know what he wants.

Acapulco shirt: “Excuse me, would you like to dance?”

Me: “No, thank you.”

I will regret this immediately afterwards.

Day 1 – 11 p.m.

I am very drunk and I have been circling the casino looking for the right slot to play. I run into my friend who has been playing the Black Widow for the past two hours. She is up $120. The woman beside her says that she just lost $100 on the machine that my friend is playing.  The worst fear of the gambler is for a machine to start paying out at the very moment that they decide to walk away. This is happening to her right now.

Day 1 – 11:10 p.m.

I’m beginning to act weird with a machine called the Mystical Unicorn. I have seen several people in passing utilizing some kind of eyes-closed voodoo moves on their machines and have convinced myself that this must be the key.

Day 1 – 11:20 p.m.

I am not a gambler. What I mean by that is that I have played a slot machine, maybe, four times ever. My intention is to lose my money fast. I have had enough and want to get out of here. I may have accidentally bet 80 lines. I don’t know exactly. But the machine is now making more sounds than usual and the Big Win sign has come up and people are starting to look over at me. I have won something. I don’t know how much, but the credit amount keeps climbing. When it finally stops, I realize that I have just won around $220 for doing absolutely nothing. 

Day 2 – 7 p.m.

I am at McPhillips Street Station trying my luck with the craziest slot machine I have ever seen in my life, watching Godzilla breathe fire onto buildings and tanks as they explode into points. I decide that casinos are just giant arcades for adults, seniors and disabled people. There are easier methods these days like online sites such as where one can gamble from the comfort of their homes.

Day 2 – 9 p.m.

I spot Dean Martin’s bobble head singing “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head.”I want to play this one badly and have been pacing behind the man sitting at it for 10 minutes. He isn’t going anywhere. I find a slot machine named after Tabasco sauce and lose $30. I came here with $100 and now I have $20. I am starting to feel shame and guilt.

Day 2 – 11 p.m.

Poker players will tell you that they aren’t gambling per se. Or at least this is what my poker-playing friend is telling me right now as I prepare to leave for good. The hierarchy of the casino, as she explains it, puts table players at the top and the slot players at the bottom.

She insists that poker is a game of skill. Everything else is just gambling and “if you’re here to gamble” she says, “you will always find a way to lose your money, even when you are winning.”


Julijana Capone is a writer for the Spectator Tribune.  Follow her on Twitter at@JulijanaCapone

For more, follow us on Twitter: @SpectatorTrib

Sponsored, in part, by: Bitcoin System