Coinciding nicely with the Government’s licensing of a new super-casino in Manchester, Louis Theroux had a programme about gamblers in Las Vegas on BBC2 last night.
One old woman feeds the Hilton's fruit machines $500 a day, and readily admitted to having lost over $4 million on the same slot machines in 7 years. Her (non-gambling) son was philosophical to a superhuman degree about this obscene pissing away of his inheritance.
A Canadian who makes a fortune selling mattresses is flown in and treated like royalty by the Hilton. Free of charge, they give him a luxurious suite approximately the size of Belgium, a few grand free credit to go shopping with and a full time flunkie whose job it is to boost his ego and keep him at the roulette table. He didn’t admit how much he lost in a weekend, but we knew it was substantially more than $250,000.
When we think of gambling addicts, we think of people who are self-deluded: they don’t know when to stop; they think the odds are not hopelessly stacked against them; they haven’t twigged that the casinos can build these great towers because they always win; they believe in lucky streaks.
None of this applied to these blighted souls. They understood all these things. “Real gamblers don’t know when to stop. Look!” they said, not stopping.
The only point of genuine delusion was about it being 'fun'. “The main things is to have a good time” they said, as they unhappily fed another $100 bill to the machine.
There was real human despair in this programme.