Gambling for the Incredibly Lazy
I’ve never been much of a gambler, not because I have moral objections to the practice, but because it seems like a lot of work. You have to cut the deck. You have to toss the dice. You have to place your chips on the numbers.
If I wanted to do chores, I could stay home and clean the house.
I realize that the more labor-intensive forms of gambling – such as card games, craps, and roulette – aren’t legal at Maine’s only gambling emporium, Hollywood Slots in Bangor. But gaming there is still an effort because you have to lift up your arms to put coins in the slot machines, and then, you still have to extend your finger to push a button. How does that differ from putting dishes in the dishwasher and pushing a button? From putting TV dinners in the microwave and pushing a button? From putting laundry in the washing machine and pushing a button?
Well, I suppose there is a slight difference. You’re not likely to lose anything of value engaging in common household activities. Other than the occasional sock. But the point is that if I’m going to travel all the way to Bangor and spend exorbitant sums, I want to be waited on hand and foot. Or at least, hand.
That’s right, I want somebody else to put my coins in the slot machines and push the button for me. Trouble is, that may be against the law in Maine. Why? I think it has something to do with preventing same-sex marriage. Or is it swine flu?
Fortunately, the state Gambling Control Board (motto: Wanna Bet We’re Doing A Great Job Preventing Same-Sex Marriage. Or Is It Swine Flu? We Forget) is addressing this issue.
The board met on Nov. 4 to consider a proposal from Hollywood Slots to allow “hosted” slot machines. The difference between these devices and regular slots is that hosted machines have a host. I assume this host takes your coat, leads you to a comfy chair, gets you a drink and a little snack, and, most importantly, puts your money in the slot machine for you.
The board members were undecided about whether such a practice violated existing statutes. Concerns were expressed that if hosted slots were allowed, they’d threaten both school consolidation, excise-tax collections, and the institution of traditional marriage. The board agreed to delay a decision until its December meeting, by which time its members would have forgotten what they did at the November meeting.
In the meantime, I’ll just play online poker – if I can find somebody to move the mouse for me.
It wasn’t just the gambling board that had contentious moral issues to deal with this past week. Maine voters had to decide whether to allow state-licensed marijuana dispensaries to provide pot for people suffering from a variety of illnesses. The proposal was approved by a wide margin at the polls on Nov. 3, but Gov. John Baldacci and Attorney General Janet Mills immediately expressed reservations about how it would be enforced.
They plan to ask the Legislature to amend the law to make it illegal to smoke weed while gambling, serving on the Gambling Control Board, or engaging in same-sex marriage. They’ve put the state Department of Health and Human Services (motto: Let’s See, According To Our Computer System, Which We Just Got Fixed Again, The Price Of Your Half-Ounce Of Prescription Pot Will Be $1,413,611.38) in charge of coming up with some workable regulations.
The AG couldn’t draft the regs herself, because she was busy with another drug-related issue of even greater consequence. After careful consideration, Mills’ office ruled that Fentimans Victorian Lemonade, which contains a tiny amount of alcohol, is an “imitation liquor” and can’t be sold to anyone under twenty-one years old, even if that person is over eighteen and therefore an “imitation adult.”
The case began in Houlton, where a high school student drank some Fentimans and failed to become inebriated (or even “imitation inebriated”), possibly because it would take at least fifteen bottles of the stuff to equal the alcohol in one can of light beer. Nevertheless, the student reported the situation to the principal, who called in the Gambling Control Board, which explained it was too busy not deciding if hosted slots machines were legal, so, eventually, the case was handed over to the AG, who decided Maine would be about the only place outside of Saudi Arabia that would restrict the sale of something so innocuous as lemonade. She also referred the preceding sentence to the Maine Commission on Comma Abuse, arguing that it was “imitation English.” A ruling is pending, which may result in the author being required to abstain from Fentimans.
It could be worse. I could have been living in the town of Friendship, where not only can’t you buy a bottle of Fentimans, but you also can’t buy any other beverage that contains alcohol. Friendship is one of a handful of Maine municipalities that had yet to receive the word that Prohibition was repealed in 1933. The place remained, in the words of a state official, “as dry as you can get.”
On election day, however, voters decided it would be acceptable if the only store in town sold wine and beer, although not liquor (imitation or otherwise) and not on Sundays because that’s the day everybody in Friendship goes to Hollywood Slots.
In another sign of wanton hedonism, the University of Maine in Farmington has unveiled a huge sculpture made entirely of used lawnmower blades.
That’s so ridiculous that I’m pretty sure I made it up. Although there does seem to be a Web site with photos. If I weren’t so lazy, I’d check it out.
Wait. I’ve just discovered I may not be as unindustrious as I thought. Instead of the sin of sloth, I may be suffering from the plague of sleep deprivation. According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (motto: Record Federal Deficit? What Record Federal Deficit?), 11 percent of Mainers don’t get enough shuteye. That’s higher than the national average of 10 percent, although well below West Virginia where a full 20 percent of the population stays up all night, in case revenuers come around looking for their stills where they’re making Fentimans Victorian Lemonade.
Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.