Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Thrill Is Gone

About once a month for the past eight years Sandy and I hopped into her car, put on some jumpy music, set the cruise control on 70, and enjoyed the mountain scenery on the 45-minute trip from our home near Ogden, Utah, to Malad, Idaho. There we had lunch and bet one dollar on each of the next ten Powerball drawings.

Playing the numbers is a bad bet, and we knew it. The odds of a win are very long. So our little trips were more in the nature of enjoyable outings than ventures into serious gambling. We won ten dollars once. We won three or four dollars a couple of times. One time, we bought a ticket for a friend and his numbers hit for $100. When I gave him his winnings, he bought me a beer. Not much of a payoff for our work as bookies.

But, as for other players, the prospect of instant riches for a small investment kept us going back. Because gambling was considered sinful as well as being illegal in Utah, we had the added incentive of experiencing the minor thrill of sneaking away from home to do something naughty.

We’ve now been Michigan residents for seven months. Betting on numbers, ponies, and all sorts of other things is perfectly legal. We haven’t placed a bet yet. Crossing the Otsego Township line to buy a lotto ticket in our favorite grocery store just doesn’t seem like a glamorous sampling of forbidden fruit.

However, a glitzy new casino recently opened about 20 miles in the other direction. Now, that is just a little bit more tempting . . .

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