On Black Friday, I joined my visiting sister and her husband on a visit to a local casino and horse track, about half an hour from here. Poker for my brother-in-law, slots for my sister and myself.
I don't frequent casinos, though I have been to them once or twice before. I am too intimidated by table games, so when I do go, it's all about slots. But it has been over ten years since I even did that much.
I ended up buying 20 dollars worth of spins on a nickel slot machine. Good news: I doubled my money by the time I cashed out. Better news? I came to an interesting realization while I was there. One that perhaps seems oxymoronic at first glance:
Casinos are an introvert haven.
Read that again if you must. If I had read it on someone else's blog before having gone to play slots myself a few days ago I may have had to do a double take too. Yet despite the crowds, the lights, the noise, and the general hullabaloo in a casino, I was not overwhelmed, like I at first feared I would be.
What I discovered was simple. At a casino, nobody gives a shit about you. That isn't to say they wouldn't call an ambulance if you had a heart attack or something, but all things being equal, people are there to gamble, in one way or another. And the vast majority of gamblers want to just be left alone to their gambling rituals while they do so. Their rabbit's foot, or lucky clover, or prayer, or dance, or whatever it is they do. It isn't always a solitary act, but it sure as hell isn't a social/community undertaking either.
Even if one is not superstitious and is just there for a good time, there is something about gambling oriented games at a casino that makes people quite isolated, mentally. They are almost cocooned from everything else going on. They shut out the things around them that have nothing to do with their immediate task, and bristle at the audacity of anything that interrupts their dance with lady luck.
Does this sound like a certain temperament we all know and love?
Sure, people sometimes make friends, or find one night stands while at a casino. Of that I have no doubt. Plus, extroverts gamble too. Yet in the midst of all the lever pulling, button pushing, whirring sounds of countless 7s, Bars and Watermelons clicking into place, and the occasional beeping or horn blowing of a big winner, there really isn't a lot of opportunity or desire for mingling and small talk.
The casino is rather accommodating to this desire to be left alone to one's own devices in the middle of a crowded room. So much is automated, to minimize the need to interact directly with people. You can break a 20 into a bunch of ones, cash out your winnings, even choose which horse you want to bet on, all through computers. Unless you are ordering food or a libation, (which they let you take with your back to your bunker of one armed bandits), you could spend both hours and hundreds of dollars and not talk to anyone.
Then there is the eclectic nature of the people who show up at a casino. I wore jeans and an orange fleece. I saw people in jackets and ties. Evening dresses. But also in sweat suits. Young, sexy girls on eight inch heels and skin tight pants accentuating their every curve, amongst frumpy, stooped over old women who didn't even speak English. Goths. Nerds. Jocks. (And because of this people watching, I imagine more than a few observant writers such as myself.) Introverts like that sort of scoffing individualism. There was, I guarantee you a broader swath of humanity represented within the casino than there is in the West Virginia town outside of it's gates.
A casino is not for everybody, whether an introvert or extrovert. Those bothered by loud noises or given headaches by lights shouldn't be there. And I of course would grow tired of it after a while. It isn't an everyday sort of activity. Yet if you are an introvert and have never been to a casino in fear of it being exhausting in the way that a club or large house party can be, I'd encourage you to reconsider your evaluation. You may just find it easier to disappear into yourself there than at other places you frequent.
Check it out. Some of you may hit the jackpot in more ways than one.