Atlantic City: Slots of Fun? Not Quite
Cough, cough. Hack, hack. Oh, sorry. Just got back from a weekend in Atlantic City, whose casino floors looked like San Francisco on a foggy morning. Actually, it was just the poor ventilation, low ceilings and mobs gathered around the slot machines. And the 1.3 million smokers on each casino floor.
Not gonna debate smoking here. I don't smoke myself, and I hate it on my clothes, and in my eyes, and in my pores, and it's generally gross. Oh, I guess I am going to debate it here. But I'm not alone.
Atlantic City residents are engaged in a struggle right now over the future of smoking in the casinos. Just last week, the City Council passed an amended ordinance that would allow smoking on one-fourth of the casino floors, much to the dismay of anti-smoking activists and casino workers. The previous plan had been to completely abolish it. If the ordinance is passed on a final vote Feb. 7, the casinos must enclose and properly ventilate 25 percent of their floors for smokers.
Sounds like a reasonable compromise to me, though I would have opted for the total ban. But it does seem like it could lead to some tension in the casinos, which, after an incident I witnessed this weekend, gives me the willies.
I was at Harrah's Marina -- which, incidentally, is just about as close to a Vegas experience as you're going to find in AC these days -- playing 10 cents at a time in a penny slot (yes, pennies, and I broke even, thank you for asking). Suddenly, a huge argument broke out between an old woman and a burly middle-aged guy. Seems the guy's girlfriend/wife/whatever was sitting in front of a slot machine watching the guy play, and not playing herself. The place was packed, and the old woman wanted the seat. He starts screaming, "Wah, wah, wah . . . stop crying and leave us alone." You can insert multiple expletives in there. He announced to the crowd that he had lost $100 in the machine so he was in effect paying for the seat next to his.
That's 10,000 pennies folks. I would have left 9,500 pennies earlier.
Security was called, though order was restored only after another person gave up her seat for the old woman. But there was a creepy vibe in the air afterward. It was the ugliest display I've ever seen in a casino, and one of the stupidest.
Maybe it's a good thing that smoking may not be banned completely. How ugly would it get in AC if people had to do without nicotine???
By John Deiner |
January 29, 2007; 1:25 PM ET
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