I wouldn’t bet on it


betI have no moral antipathy toward gambling. Heck, I even played a lottery ticket when the prize last approach a half-billion dollars. But I’ve never bet anything more than literally penny-ante poker.

That’s not entirely true. I’ve wagered on something that I knew was a sure thing. One time in the 1980s, I won $10 from my boss over whether the orange juice was from concentrate or not. I don’t know the answer now, but I knew it then. I’ll bet on things I know to be true.

The last time I bet on a non-sure thing was on games five and six of the 1979 World Series. I picked the Pittsburgh Pirates, who had lost three of the first four games and bet only a buck or two, and they won. But I chickened out and didn’t pick them for Game 7, which they also won, and of course the Series.

The horses

Sometime in August, I won a $50 card from something called NYRAbets from the local newspaper, the Times Union. One uses the site for wagering at various racetracks, notably the one in nearby Saratoga. And because I was a new user, I got an extra $25.

That day in mid-August, I bet $2 each on nine horses to win, or $18. The next day, the $75 was now $66. That was fine. I’m picking these horses by name. Anything with black, or green was a likely choice. The following day, down to $53, then to $37. I stopped because life was so busy I didn’t even have that five minutes in the morning.

Then on Labor Day, I made my usual $18 wager. The next day, I went from $37 to $56. I must have picked a long shot to win. And I have no idea which one because I just wasn’t paying attention. And I haven’t played since.

Casino Royale

I particularly hate casinos. It had to be 1996 when the family was in the San Diego area for the niece’s graduation. We drove for nearly an hour to go to a casino. My father loved it. I was totally bored.

On the way back from a work trip to Syracuse, my boss’s boss wanted to stop at a casino. I hear he lost $150. I lost $10, played on the “free” machine” for a time, then read a magazine.

In 1999 or 2000, there was a work conference in Niagara Falls, NY. We were encouraged to cross the border into Ontario and go to a casino there because they hadn’t yet been built on this side of the border. Some sponsors even provided us $10 to wager. I started on the slots and was actually winning. This made me actually queasy; my addictive persona could start to like this. So I switched machines and promptly spent my allotment.

I have a lot of vices. Wagering just isn’t one of them.

Casinos and power stations

The Seneca Niagara Casino, though, did have one interesting aspect; the sign for the upcoming music performers there.

RIGHT across the street from the Sheraton Inn where I stayed in Niagara Falls, NY late last month is this massive Seneca Niagara Casino. I assumed it’s run by the tribe, but I don’t have enough intellectual curiosity to find out. I just don’t enjoy being in them.

My late father, by contrast, LOVED the casinos; I went with him at least once in California. I got stuck waiting for a co-worker to lose $150 at Turning Stone, between Syracuse and Utica, NY.

Back in 1998, there was no casino on the US side of Niagara Falls, so one had to go to the Ontario, Canada side to play. Since there was little else to do, I went along. I was winning on a particular slot machine and did not like the feeling AT ALL, so switched machines so I could lose and be done with it. Why wouldn’t I want to win? Because I have an addictive personality, and it could have become a problem.

It’s also that casinos quite literally give me a headache. They’re noisy, somewhat dark, with no clocks, no windows to give you the sense of the time of day. Some even allow cigarette smoking, which is not good for me.

Whereas, on our walk to the Canadian side of the Falls this year, I was excited to discover the Toronto Power Generating Station, which is now a National Historic Site of Canada. From the Wikipedia: “Completed in 1906 in the Beaux-Arts-style, the station was designed by architect E. J. Lennox… The plant ceased operations on February 15, 1974.” Coming across it, without even knowing it was there, was a real find. It reminds me of a scaled-back gilded-age mansion. For a power plant? How oddly interesting.

The Seneca Niagara Casino, though, did have one interesting aspect; the sign for the upcoming music performers there.

Temptations/Four Tops, May 11 – the type of performers I’d expect; there’s only one original Temptation, and how can the Tops be the Tops without Levi Stubbs?
Bobby Vinton, May 25 – always associated him with that not-so-great music from that period between 1959 and the 1963 March on Washington.
Go-Go’s, June 15 – I didn’t know they were still together, or together again. I saw them live over 30 years ago at JB Scott’s in Albany; check out the Coverville tribute to them
Jackson Browne, June 29 – Jackson Browne? Why do I find this oddly disappointing, somehow?

This image, originally posted to Flickr, was reviewed on July 13, 2010, by the administrator or reviewer File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske), who confirmed that it was available on Flickr under his file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license on that date.

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