The latest effort of the greedy, immoral and myopic men of the Israeli government to legalize gambling brought back memories from long ago. When I was about 18 years old, a few years before I became a Ba'al Teshuvah, I visited the casinos in Atlantic City, N.J. with a friend. This was not too long after gambling was legalized in New Jersey. This was a deal where the casino pays for the bus and gives the "gamblers" a few dollars worth of tokens, with the hope that once they get to the casino these "gamblers" will spend a lot more money than what they were given.
After the long bus ride we finally made it to the boardwalk where all of the casinos were. There are a few memories from the casinos that are forever etched in my mind. In one of the casinos, former heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier was standing near the entrance and shaking hands with the visitors. My friend and I did not miss the chance to shake hands with the former champ. I shook his hand and gazed upon him. From the look in his eyes I got the feeling that he was not particulary thrilled with his new occupation. It must have been disheartening for "Smokin' Joe" to have to make a living by shaking hands with everybody who came into the casino, even skinny 18 year olds.
Another memory that I have is of a man that sat at one of the blackjack tables. From his clothes I could tell that he was not well to do. In front of him, on the table, was an alcoholic beverage of some type. Every time he lost, which was almost all of the time, he nervously jerked his hand to take another swig from the drink in front of him. I thought to myself that if this man is a bachelor, then he is only harming himself. If he is a family man, however, the money that he needs to support his wife and children is quickly migrating from his pocket to the pocket of the casino. In any case he was a pitiful spectacle.
That day I made a resolution that I would never enter a casino again.