18 May 2006

Casinos - sorry we don't do them

At no point throughout my entire life (and I'm getting on a bit now) have I ever been aware of any pressure group, lobby or campaign in this country to relax the gambling laws. Drinking - yes. Sunday shopping - yes. Gambling - no.

So where did this rush to build super-casinos, relax the regs on existing ones, and fill our TVs and computers with online gambling, suddenly come from?

I have my suspicions. I don't think it was initiated by anyone in the UK. I think an American businessmen got access to our Prime Minister and persuaded him it's what "lil' old Britain" needs... and, probably (the clincher) that "God is 100% behind the project"!

Over the years as a travel journalist I've visited a good many casinos. In Middle East resort hotels, on cruise ships, in the coin-tinkling / light-blinking night-clubs of Tokyo, or the ski resorts of Colorado. One thing I recognised early on: this is not the happy vivacious pastime it is made out to be. Most people in casinos don't smile. I have seen the exact same sad faces with the same fixed - anxious or determined - look of concentration in the Salon Privé of the famous Casino in Monte Carlo, as I have on the grubby casino barges moored alongside the seafront in Biloxi, Mississippi. (Not sure if they are back yet. Hurricane Katrina smashed them up. Maybe God's backing is less than 100%!).

That's why - and now we are getting to the message in this blog - I never cover casinos. I don't think they are glamorous. I think they are squalid. So they are never mentioned in anything I write and are never listed on Travel-Lists. It's also, I'm afraid why I have never written anything about Las Vegas. Can't see the point.

No comments: