Life in Progress: A weblog by Heidi Price

Maybe not a good idea

On Saturday, we drove down to Ohio to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday with his six other kids and their families.

As we drove in, we passed the neon lots of Slotsville, W.Va. This town, you might have heard of it, used to be known as Weirton, W.Va. Now, as far as the eye can see, neon signs advertising slots parlors light up a small town that used to be lit by the orange glow of steel mills.

"Can we stop and play poker on our way home?" I asked the more responsible of us. Earlier that year on vacation, we spent a few night at the casino playing poker at a slots machine. Each night he had to pull me out of the casino. I never wanted to leave until we had his the Royal Flush, no deuces - aka The Mega Jackpot. At the end of vacation, I promised him that I would never play the slot machines unless he was with me. And I had kept that promise.

The party was wonderful and I had one too many glasses of wine so I let him drive home. As promised, he stopped at a slots parlor and we gathered our quarters together, about $10. We needed more, I thought, so I reached into my wallet and pulled out my plastic.

"You are not using a credit card to gamble," he told me on the way in.

"It's not a credit card, it's my MAC card," I told him. Not seeing my logic, he still nixed the idea.

Flash forward 20 minutes and the few dozen credits we bought with our quarters are dwindling. While he went to the bathroom, I rummaged through my purse and found a $5 that I quickly slipped into the bill slot. In another 30 minutes that was gone too. He stood to leave.

Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was the promise of the neon lights and eye-catching dollar signs, but I wasn't ready to go. We hadn't won yet but we were so close. Couldn't he see that? Had I been on my own, I would have probably stayed for hours, or at least until the wine wore off, trying to get that Royal Flush.

Under a law signed by Gov. Ed Rendell last week, the 14 casinos coming to Pennsylvania are allowed, but not required, to give away free alcohol to gamblers.

I'm thinking that maybe it's not such a good idea.


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