Even when I actually go to a casino, I rarely play the slot machines. My mum loves them, but then again so do a million other elderly women. They can sit there for hour after hour feeding the same machine with the smallest possible denomination coin that a machine will accept. Pressing the button, watching the wheels spin, collecting the occasional medium jackpot, the fairly regular small pot, and, at times, cracking the big one.
How big? Well, divide 5,000 pennies by 100 and that will give you the pounds you won. Fifty quid, right? Who knows how much they have fed the machine over a period of time to have won that jackpot. It’s all about the noise. 5,000 coins rattling down the payout chute makes an incredible sound and attracts other punters like bees to a sunflower.
I went with my mother one day to the casino, handed over £10, an amount that they can apparently make last for up to 14 hours! Go figure! I wandered off after seeing her settle herself in front of what was obviously her favourite machine. She nodded hello to ‘Betty’ on the left and greeted ‘Sandra’ a couple of machines down to the right and it was ‘Game on!’ She didn’t even notice I was there after less than a minute.
I have heard that there is quite a social set up at casinos like this. There are hundreds of slot machines with as many players. They get to know each other and form small groups with one of your casino friends always ready to mind your machine while you take a toilet break. You might think it a bit bizarre, but I found it somewhat comforting that mum had a group of friends outside of family and neighbours with whom she could socialise and share that gambling spirit.
She got a little sick a few days ago and was carrying on a treat about not getting out to the casino to see her friends. She insisted that a good jackpot was all she needed to liven her up and set her on the path to a quick recovery. My friend, Jerry, who was a bit of an online punter, told me about a slots machines online kind of site that enabled you to play the dreaded game at home. My mother, while not an internet expert was also no Luddite so I took her through the sign-up process. It was all free and mum soon took on the challenge of playing the game to achieve enough chips to move to next levels. It’s amazing how quickly a person becomes an expert at something on which they had no experience before starting.
Mum loves this game. You get all the music and ‘Ching! Ching!’ of bells ringing, wheels turning and jackpots paying. I was ever hopeful that my dear old mum would find leaving home to play at her usual casino much too hard. She rang me the other day and asked me to drive her to the casino. I guess I was wrong.