They leave, and I head for three floors of gaming where I am enveloped in a fog of red, blue and gold lights. Slot machines are clanging and shaking, some
old fashioned looking and some technical, digital, computerized. No one is talking. Old and disabled people are scattered, each alone, staring at machines.
I see one long line of slot machines played by a wheel-chaired elder, a standing nurse, another wheel-chaired elder, another standing nurse, on and on,
each mindlessly hitting a flashing button.
I can't bear to watch them for too long, so I make my way to the penny slots on the far wall. Sitting next to a gentleman, his walker at his side, I break
into his trance. "I've never played this machine before," I say. "Is it hard?"
I mentally note that she is now the third senior to worry about me wasting my money.
"Huh?" He pauses, blinks and turns to help me, "Nah. It tells you what to do... You want to get 7's. If you get blue, red, or green you can get extra spins."
"Do you mind if I watch you first?"
After struggling with the machine accepting his $5 bills, he explains how the casino tickets work and also how you have to bet at least 35 cents or it
won't play, but you can better higher. I watch a bit and then give it a try. As I insert my money and start to push the 50 button, he stops me. "Oh! Don't
do that! Just bet the lowest to get used to it. You don't want to lose your money so fast."
I thank him for the advice, play a few times and cash out, then stop for some free Diet Coke.
On the next floor I meet a white-haired lady with a cane sitting at a newer computerized slot machine.
"I've never played this machine...any advice?"
"Oh, just hope it wins!"
I go to put my $10 in the machine and she says, "You don't have a card?"
"No," I reply, "Do I need a card to play?
"Well, it's doesn't help you win but you can get free stuff with one. Just show them your driver's license and they'll get you started."
I put my money in and ask, "Okay, what next?"
"You'll want to play all five wheels. You can bet different amounts." I notice that she always plays 50 so I ask if 50 is her thing. "No, I just always
play the second button whatever it is."
"Okay, I will try that too."
"Oh, no, no! You play the lowest. Don't waste your money like that." I mentally note that she is now the third senior to worry about me wasting my money.
So, I play the 25. As I hit different things she explains them to me. When I somehow manage to get back to my original $10, I cash out. As my ticket
prints, she says, "Good for you! That's the way to do it. Break even."
As I sit back I ask, "Do you come here often?" She also sits back to talk.
"Well, not as much as I used to. My husband has been real sick, in the hospital," she sighs, "Almost lost him. We used to get to the big casinos on the
coast all the time. We finally got to Marksville a few weeks ago. We come a few times a week." She pauses. "It's something to do."