N@50: A Million Blessings

Yes, this is a Newlywed at 50 post and yes, the title of my latest book is A Million Blessings, an anthology with three novellas. So what’s the connection? My novella, Showers of Blessings, is about an assistant pastor with a gambling addiction. This post is about the gambling habits of me and my new hubby.

Before y’all start praying and laying hands on stuff, I confess that neither one of us are gambling addicts. We have a casino about 40 miles from us that we visit occasionally. In fact, we saw Frankie Beverly and Maze there last year.

Our casino has about 1500 slot machines, no table games, and some type of dog racing activity where the dogs are on tv. I don’t know much about the dogs. We just pass through that area on our way to the buffet. Yes, buffet.

Our casino has the cheapest buffet in the world. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but for $6.50 each we can get a salad, an entree, two sides, corn bread, dessert and a drink. The price is not bad and the food is very tasty. It’s really down-home southern cooking, almost as good as my mom’s. I haven’t decided yet if we go to play the slots or to eat the food. We always make sure we have at least $15 left over from gambling so we can eat.

Now about the gambling. We rarely win. We understand that the odds drastically favor the house. But we play anyway. We started out with the penny machines and now we’re up to two cents. We used to play the minimum but somewhere along the line we learned about progressive slots so now I’ll play the maximum. Not him.

We tend to break even when we go, though there have been times when the house has beaten us soundly. If I’m winning, he’s losing and vice versa. That’s most of the time and that’s a break even night. When we’re both losing it’s a good night for the house. My problem with slot machines is that I don’t like to lose. As long as we’re breaking even, I’m fine but once we get down, I want my money back. So then I try to play to get my money back. A losing proposition if there ever was one. Hubby just shakes his head and lets me lose until I reach our limit and then we go eat or go home, if we’ve already eaten.

How do we justify losing money? Well, our limit is less that we would spend if we went to a concert or show, so we look at it as our entertainment for the evening. Once you throw in that cheap buffet, it really does turn into an inexpensive night out.

My new hubby plays the lottery. We don’t have a lottery in Alabama but if we’re anywhere that there’s a lottery, he buys a couple of tickets. He even played when we were in England. The problem with my husband is that he plays but he rarely checks the numbers to see if he won. Believe it. To be honest, half the time, he can’t remember where he put the tickets. So much for us winning anything. The other day I volunteered to check his tickets for him. He had some as old as May of last year. Some were so faded you couldn’t read the numbers. I gave up.

So those are our gambling habits. Going to the local casino has lost some of its appeal so we haven’t been in a while. It’s sorta hard to sit there stuffing money in those slot machines when you know there are folks in your family who are out work and could use that money.

Another reason we haven’t been in a while is that they’ve changed the machines. You see, gambling is illegal in Alabama so they call the slot machines electronic bingo. There’s actually an electronic bingo card on each machine that flashes when you pull the slot handle. I’m not quite sure why.

Recently, our governor has cracked down on these illegal bingo halls, as they call them, so they have changed the way you play the slots. You have to pull the handle (or press the button) multiple times on each spin. I’m not sure why but some of the fun of it is gone with all the extra presses.

Several casinos (electronic bingo halls) in Alabama have been raided and shut down by our governor’s new task force. However you feel about state-sponsored gambling, for me, it felt very wrong to hear the governor say he was helping people who lost their casino jobs get unemployment and other public assistance. However you feel about gambling, how can you put people out of work when the economy is this bad? Unless, of course, they make more money by not working.

What makes all this so sad is that the states surrounding us–Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee–all have a lottery, casinos or both. So if folks want to gamble, they only have to drive a little a little longer to do it.

What’s your take on the lottery and casinos? Have you ever been? Do you know any gambling addicts? I really didn’t have a model for my character in A Million Blessings since I don’t know any preachers who are gambling addicts. The idea for Showers of Blessings was a light-hearted one: If you preach against the lottery but you secretly play it, what do you do when you win the jackpot and your face is going to be blasted all over the media?

One thought on “N@50: A Million Blessings

  1. Bit of a controversial issue among church folks, yes?

    In general, I don’t gamble. It’s been many years since I bought a lottery ticket and I only went to a casino once, a high school graduation present. But I do usually fill out an NCAA bracket, usually just for the fun of it, although occasionally for a buck or two. One year, I won a set of marriage encounter CDs from a Christian marriage enrichment site that was hosting the brackets.

    Then there’s the American Idol pool at work. This year I passed but last I did win maybe $10 one week.

    I’ve got a story idea I’m playing with about church folks and the lottery. I think that’s my next story after I finish the current wip that just won’t end. Look forward to reading A Million Blessings.

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