“Oh, it’s not really gambling when you never lose.”
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — For $15 each, Roselyn and Nelia can travel to Foxwoods Resort Casino, a world class hotel and casino complex in Ledyard, Connecticut, every Tuesday on board a Sky Liner bus operated by a Chinese company.
The bus leaves the Flushing in Queens at 10 o’clock in the morning and goes back to New York City at 5:30 in the afternoon for its scheduled return trip.
Roselyn, 39, of Iloilo City and Nelia, 41, of Sampaloc, Manila, both caregivers in Brooklyn and Long Island, respectively, join the more than 30 other mostly senior passengers and retirees in the leisurely two hours and 45 minutes land trip.
When the bus arrives in Foxwoods Resort Casino, each of them get three free coupons as they disembark: one for a buffet worth $20, and two for the “betting” respectively worth $20 and $25.
They must place their own cash (converted into chips) equivalent to the $20 and $25 coupons if they decide to bet in the table games.
If both coupons win, they get an instant $90. If the coupons lose, they instantly lose $45.
They have the option though to use only the buffet coupon and keep for souvenir the betting coupons.
When Roselyn and Nelia first came here in July last year, they were only among the many ordinary casino visitors tantalized by the complex’s mammoth structure which includes six casinos and a resort that covers an area of 9,000,000 square feet.
Nelia, a frequent visitor of casinos in Metro Manila before arriving in the United States in 2016, was impressed by the Foxwoods Resort’s more than 250 gaming tables for blackjack, craps, roulette, and poker, and more than 5,500 slot machines.
She was also astounded when she saw the state-of-the-art Hard Rock Cafe, among several restaurants within the casinos.
There are two hotel towers in Foxwoods with a total of 2,266 hotel rooms; and a two-story game arcade for children and teens.
The imposing Grand Pequot Tower was the original tower that opened in 1997. The second opened in 2008 as the MGM Grand and was rebranded the Fox Tower in 2013.
A retail complex known as Tanger Outlet Mall, opened in 2015 between the two hotel towers, has 85 stores for luxury goods, Nelia’s and Roselyn’s immediate destination when their coupons won.
Things became different last quarter in 2017 when Roselyn and Nelia now became regular Foxwoods habitues.
Instead of their “regular” Tuesday trip, they departed for the place known as “the gambling mecca of the East Coast” three times a week.
They became addicted in the place and it seemed they didn’t realize it.
In one instance early this year, when their respective betting coupons did not win, they started to bet using the extra money they kept in their wallets.
The signs of a gambling problem, according to psychologists, are often the same as the signs of other addictions.
The common signs of addiction manifested in the two caregivers’ actuation include the following: their feeling of the need to be secretive about their gambling; having trouble controlling their gambling habits; gambling when they couldn’t afford to; and when their friends and co-workers have expressed concern about their gambling.
To compound their woes, Nelia and Roselyn lost not only $45 each when their coupons did not win, Nelia lost $350 and Roselyn $400 in one of their trips there in May 2018.
They incurred more losses in their most recent visits.
And there was no sign they were ready to quit.
Experts said gambling is one of the most insidious of human vices, as it presents the illusion of easy money yet can quickly lead to financial ruin.
Juliet, our favorite Filipina roulette operator, once warned us that “the odds are never in your favor whether it is poker, blackjack or anything else; gambling is a successful industry because the house always wins. Just imagine maghihirap kayo ng trabaho sa isang linggo tapos dito lang mapupunta ang pera.”
When Nelia and Roselyn were told about Juliet’s admonition, they had no reaction.