I’m not a big gambler but do enjoy spending an occasional hour or two in the casinos just for fun. On past trips in Caribbean and Las Vegas casinos, I had a blast feeding a few dollars to the slot machines and trying my skill at the roulette tables. I’ve never won or lost much because I limit myself to less than $50 in total spending before I go to any casino to play.
For me, the joy is just watching others place huge wagers on the craps tables, blackjack and other games. My stomach just couldn’t handle risking that much of my hard-earned money, but it’s exciting to see “high rollers” laying down massive bets on a single roll of the dice or a spin of the wheel. Even though I’m no gambling enthusiast, I’m not one of those anti-gambling people either. Generally speaking, I can take it or leave it.
Online gambling is a whole different universe because the players never have to leave their homes. My brother works for an online gaming company as a graphics designer, so I know a bit about how huge the industry is and how fast it’s growing. After the birth of the Internet, online gaming has truly exploded in popularity.
The reason I bring up my feelings about gambling is this: on a recent flight, I realized that every single passenger was part of a group. They were headed to an international meeting of online gamblers. To this day, it was one of the oddest experiences I’ve had with an entire planeload of people. And like I mentioned earlier, I’m familiar with online gaming but not to acquainted with the specialized vocabulary.
They were a nice enough bunch. In fact, they all seemed friendlier than average. It was the conversations that intrigued me. Mind you, the majority of them were adults between the ages of 25 and 50. They were from different cities and online gaming clubs and, for the most part, did not know each other. But to listen to their banter and watch the way they interacted, you’d think they had all grown up together. I guess the “community” of online gambling can forge some pretty strong, and fast, bonds between people.
One group of three men were talking to each other in what I assumed was a language I didn’t understand. Turns out they were speaking English, which I speak fluently. But what threw me for a loop was the fact that they were only conversing about various online games they’ve played.
As I passed each row of seats making sure everyone was comfortable and had what they needed, I discovered that everyone else was engaged in the same sort of talk. Keep in mind that there are literally thousands of different online gambling games and websites, and each one has its own specialized jargon, rules, prizes, etc.
The other thing I noticed was the clothing. At least 90 percent of the passengers (who were about an even mixture of males and females) were wearing shirts, hats, scarves and accessories with gaming website logos on them. I mean, these people were true believers and online gambling loyalists for sure. The funniest thing, that one of my coworkers pointed out to me, was that almost everyone was talking to someone else. On most flights, about half of the passengers are asleep and the other half are either reading or quietly chatting to their neighbor.
With this bunch, it was non-stop conversation. Every one of them was in a happy mood, and they all seemed like they had been together for years. It just goes to show you that you really don’t know people until you interact with them. I had always thought of online gamblers as anti-social types. It was a pleasant discovery to learn that the Internet gaming community is a lively, friendly, talkative and extremely polite bunch.