Saturday, January 14, 2006

Back By Popular Demand: Some Thoughts on the Temptation of Gambling

I hate to say this, but I think gambling might be one of my "gospel weaknesses." Everybody's got something: fasting, tithing, three hour church, etc. For a while I thought mine was DEFINITELY fasting, since I have not only been known to come home during Sunday school and polish off an entire tray of rice krispy treats, but I have also had the calling of being IN CHARGE of breaking the fast (i.e., the "ward break-the-fast coordinator"...and yes, I DID serve top ramen). But lately, since I moved to Tucson where they do a lottery, I have realized that I am the most tempted by games of chance. This realization came on slowly, with once-or-twice-monthly conversations with Mike that were inspired by a big lottery billboard (along with dreams of a better lifestyle):

Carly: "Is it wrong to buy a lottery ticket? I mean, just once? I'm not saying that I am gonna get hooked on gambling. I'm just saying instead of buying a soda and a candy bar, what if I bought a lottery ticket? Is that wrong?"

Mike: "Is it gambling?"

Carly: "I don't know, is it?"

Mike: "Is it a game of chance?"

Carly: "I GUESS so, but come on. It's not like blowing your whole paycheck in a game of poker."

Mike: "Or IS it?"

Carly: "But what about those peeps who put a quarter in a slot machine just on a whim and then hit the jackpot? Are those peeps sinners?"

Mike: "Well, why don't you buy a lottery ticket and find out?"

Carly: "You know I could never do that!"

The last time we had a conversation like this, I realized that I have a problem...a gambling problem. And my unhealthy obsession with buying a lottery ticket is just the tip of the iceberg.

This was proven further on our trip through Nevada this Christmas. While driving home from Mike's brother's house in Northern California (P.S. I LOVE the Redwoods!!!!), we crossed Nevada and stayed a night in Winnemucca. As is the case in Nevada, there was a casino conveniently located right next to our hotel. Mike actually said something to the effect of "Hey, why don't you throw a quarter in the slot machine and see what happens!" Well, you don't have to tell me twice.

I picked up Hazel in her carseat and timidly walked into the casino. There I sat at a slot machine. My quarter was ready and I was feelin' lucky. fingers were hot that morning. I could feel that something big was going to happen. Then I realized that I had no idea where to put the quarter. There was a place to put a credit card or a dollar. But no quarter slot! I guess slot machines have come a long way since I put a quarter in one at the Las Vegas airport when I was 18. I had two choices: I could either get out a dollar, which to me would have been SERIOUS gambling, or I could get up and wander around the casino looking for a place to put a quarter. I chose option three, and pretended to know what I was doing. After a few seconds, I scooped up Hazel, and power walked out the door and to the car. "Did you win?" Mike asked. "I didn't even get started," I said. Luckily, we had a WHOLE DAY of Nevada ahead of us, so I knew this wasn't my last chance.

But as we stopped at the next gas station and I was able to find the quarter slot, I panicked when I realized that I wasn't trying to play the traditional slot machine, where you crank the lever and the little cherries and dollar signs and lemons spin around, I was playing electronic blackjack! I had no IDEA which buttons to push or what I was doing. The buttons in front of me were labeled "hold" or "hit" and I think I may have pushed "hit" but I'm not really sure. Finally giving up on the endeavor, I stood up and said "oh well" loudly. I am sure everyone at the gas station bought it. A quarter lost is a quarter lost, right? I would have lost it anwyay. They didn't have to know that I had NO IDEA what to do once my quarter was put in the slot.

I gave up after that. I had a surge of yearning as we drove through Wendover and back into Utah. This is your last chance I thought. But who am I kidding? I don't belong in a casino when I can't even put a quarter in a slot machine and pull the little lever (do they still have those little levers?) So when it comes to gambling, I am all talk. No one need worry about Carly having a Marge Simpson-esque gambling crisis. I would if I COULD, but I can't figure out those dang-blasted machines! And of course, we have been strongly warned against the evils of gambling. I realize now that gambling is so evil that you can have a problem with it without ever even putting a quarter in a machine or buying a lottery ticket. Woah.


  1. This is too bad. There is a guy in our neighborhood that puts vintage slot machines in his driveway on Sunday mornings to sell. I was thinking that this would be a good birthday present for you after reading the beginning of this blog. But now that you have reformed, I guess I'll have to find something else.

  2. I'm glad you came back and that's awesome that you served Top Ramen at the ward break-the-fast. Really.

  3. I have had those same wicked little questions about the lottery. Sometimes it's hard to link BUYING lottery tickets with PLAYING the lottery. Curiosity killed the cat, and potentially won him 10 million (annuitized) dollars!!!

    I think it's hilarious that you said "oh well" to end the whole affair. It's totally something I would do because I was sure the whole room was riveted on me. Very smooth Carly. Very smooth.

  4. And I'm terribly glad you posted again. I was (unbelievably) getting sick of seeing Bono. If that's really possible...

  5. I have had similar conversations with Eric over the years, but about participating in raffles. I contended that it was really a donation to the school, etc., but he said it was gambling. (Now who made bisop, him or me?) Anyhow, Pres. H spoiled it all by mentioning "raffles" by name in his last anti-gambling talk. So . . . I guess I'm on the wagon as far as raffles are concerned. Darn.

  6. I hold a special place in my heart for Winnemucca. That is where Neil and I watched a woman walk into a "bathroom closed" sign in a gas station where I spent $5 in the quarter slots. I'm a sinnah, too.

  7. haha im a sinner too. I love playing internet casino slot machines cant get enough of them.