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Best of Mark Pilarski
Do two-year-olds gamble? You bet they do!8 January 1999
Forget video games, Ronnie, I can prove to you that two-year-olds gamble. Strong statement, yes, but no whiff of bologna.
First, let me give you two examples of children gambling casino style. On the Boardwalk in Atlantic City children can freely walk into an arcade and play true slot machines by exchanging quarters for tokens. They win crummy prizes in exchange for the tickets the slot spits out. Another example is at the children's arcade at the Circus Circus in Reno. A child can play Flip It, the casino game that flips quarters into the air and on rare occasion pushes them down into trays. They disguised it in name only by calling it Jungle Jamboree. Again, kids get to exchange tickets for worthless prizes.
But I did say two-year-olds. To prove I
have one foot planted in mid-air, how about the two-year-old who makes a
path with Linus blanket in hand to that thingamajig at the supermarket
door that dispenses those plastic transparent eggs. For a quarter a
young tot can win an egg containing a bracelet, a cheap watch, but most
likely a 3¢ ring-more on that below. These vending machines are classic
Granted, I doubt anyone would arrest or even put the kibosh on a child for playing grocery store slots, but I do wonder why these vending operators have gone uncontested for so long. Who owns these cash cows milking kids out of quarters?
By the way, Ronnie, vis-à-vis some insider information, the cost of those plastic egg prizes produced in Asia is about 3¢, and there is only one true prize (junky watch) per two hundred eggs. Our offspring are up against tougher odds than the tightest one-armed bandit.
The stimulation to gamble does begin early for many children, well before an arcade adventure. And what parent in his or her right mind is really going to say no? We have to be quarter generous to our kids. They will be choosing our nursing home.
The "handle" is the total amount of all coins played through a slot machine. The "hold" (also called "win") is the amount the casino held as profit. The "yield" is the casino's win expressed as a percentage of the profit.
According to Roxy Roxborough, czar of the Las Vegas handicappers, "Your chances are a million to one that any one telephone call will be financially rewarding. Compare that against the caller being a telemarketer or an undesirable in-law, three to one."
Your best bet, Russell, is to leave the
answering machine on.
Best of Mark Pilarski