This past week, I took the opportunity of being within ten minutes of Twin River Casino in Lincoln, RI, and went to the casino twice, once with each of my grandmothers. That being said, the experience was quite different than I expected.
My first trip was rather brief, spending about two hours there. Upon arrival, I was confused because the building was much larger than I had anticipated. My grandma and I were coming to the casino with two purposes: attend a club member buffet and play the slot machines a bit. When I attempted to enter the casino, I was carded, which was to be expected. I followed my grandma around the casino like a puppy, and we ended up at the Player's Club booth. I joined the club, received my card, and was unexpectedly given a scratch ticket, where I won a whopping $5. I was pretty happy, though, as I was not expecting to get anything. I continued to follow my grandma until we arrived at her favorite slot machine, which seemed to be in a back corner. There were a few people smoking, though not enough to bother me. The graphics on that particular machine were impressive, and I used my grandma's $25 Free Play and found myself entering round upon round of Free Play Games. I was pretty lucky. I used the entire $25 Free Play and came out with $39. Not too bad at all.
We then headed out to the buffet. We waited in line, which seemed to be just a bunch of grandmother's and grandfather's. That was to be expected, though, since we were at the casino at 11 am. I was my grandma's guest to the buffet. I was pleasantly surprised with the array of food that was provided. I enjoyed some shrimp cocktail (a first for me), a pork roast, green beans, rice pilaf, a roll, salad, and water. For desert, I tried the coconut crumb cake and oreo cookies and cream cake. I left the casino around 1 pm, full and $41 richer. I was enthralled.
Fast forward six days and 2 hours. I arrived back at the casino, this time with my other grandma, my memere. This time, I waited at the security booth as the security officer approached to show him my ID before he could have the chance to stop me. My memere and I went to the Player's Club booth, where she got a replacement card. We approached the slot machines, her with the goal of finding "diamond" machines and me with the goal of finding a machine that was fun. The smoke from the other players, largely the 60+ population, was beginning to bother and smother us, so we wandered up to the smoke-free section to see what was offered up there in terms of slot machines. No "diamond" machines were to be found up there so she was disappointed, and the selection seemed to be multiples of the same machines. We meandered back down and eventually found ourselves at machines that were doing well for us. She played her "diamond" machine and I rotated between a few of my new favorites. One was a machine with cowboys on it, and the other I do not remember the specific design. I spent a while at the cowboy machine, hitting different Free Play Games and trying to figure out how it worked and how I was gaining money. After a while, the smoke from an older man a few seats down just kept getting in my face and bothering me so much that I had to move. I cashed out and found the other machine. This one, I hit multiple Free Play Games, too, and when my memere came over to ask me if I was ready to get food, I had just won $24 in one of the Free Play Games.
We went upstairs to Wicked Good Bar & Grill. We engaged in a conversation with the hostess while we waited for a table to be cleared about the nature of gambling. She told us about a man who frequents both the casino and restaurant and who lost $2,000 the other day but will probably still be back again tomorrow. She explained his nonchalant nature about losing $2,000, and I was thinking "Wow, some people really have it good." She said even losing $50 would be heartbreaking to her, and I internally aggressively agreed. We were seated and ordered drinks. I examined the menu and was amused at the unique names giving to menu items. I was curious as to why they provided a bowl of popcorn on the table but gratefully consumed the movie-theater style popcorn nonetheless. We ordered the equivalent to a cod sandwich and a Philly cheesesteak. We split our sandwiches in half, and both had both sandwiches. It's possible that I was just very hungry, but I thought the food was phenomenal and definitely would go there again.
After we paid our check, we went back down to the casino and played for another hour. A security guard approached me and carded me once again, which I was slightly confused about because I had to be carded entering the casino and offended because he said to me, "You have to be 18 to be in here. You know that, right?." Also, I was 99% sure that he was the same security officer that had checked my ID outside of the casino. It wasn't that big of a deal, though, and I expected it as soon as I saw him approaching me. We played for a little bit longer, then cashed out. I spent $25 and came out with $41, and my memere spent $50 and came out with $3. I guess I am just lucky, though I won't put that to the test.
The culture of the casino is not something I am very fond of. The atmosphere is a bit intense, as everyone is just hoping to win money. The smoke is quite invasive, though can be avoided by going to the small smoke-free section. The graphics of the slot machines are impressive and engaging, which is a plus. The food was delicious. Generally, I hate spending money so gambling makes me anxious because of the very real possibility of losing money. Because of that, I probably won't be back to the casino in a while, but I don't mind spending a little bit of money for hours of fun. I have control, and know when to stop, which I believe is the biggest problem in gambling: for most people, the impulse to continue on and play just once more (which turns into numerous plays) in the hope to win money eventually eats away all the money these people are putting in the machines.
The most enticing part of the entire experience, for me, was to people watch. Watching the array of emotions exposed gambling for what it really was: a game of luck. The faces of dismay, disappointment, and shame were much greater than those of joy and enjoyment.