Take a gamble on this roadtrip

Allison Smith

Mountaineer casino offers slots, tables

Among my many adventures in life, I was never able to make it to a casino. Perhaps this is because I’ve only had seven months to legally gamble. Maybe it’s just that I’ve never had the desire to go. Or maybe it’s because I never learned to play cards.

So when I was asked if I wanted to join a group of my friends at the Mountaineer Casino in Chester, W.Va., of course I said yes. I am always open for new adventures in my life, and this was certainly new to me.

The casino is only 77 miles away from Kent and right across the boarder from East Liverpool. Compared to the trips I usually take, this took no time.

After the hour and a half drive from Kent, and a stop in East Liverpool for lunch, we came to our destination. At first, it wasn’t much to look at, just a large red building. We passed by a racetrack where there were a few horses being exercised. The parking lot was packed and it was cold outside. We had to park far away and walk in the cold, so we were eager to get inside where it was warm.

It was Valentine’s Day eve, so of course those of us who are taken brought dates, which almost doubled our group size. We piled into the room at the Grand Hotel, which is connected to the casino, and began to prepare for a night of gambling. With 18 people occupying a junior suite, it’s needless to say things were crowded and loud. I’m still surprised we didn’t get into trouble.

After thorough preparation for a night of gambling, we piled into the elevator and headed into the lights. Noises filled my ears: bings, bongs, clicks and clanks. Smells filled my nose: alcohol, cigarette smoke and food. There was a permanent haze in the air from all of the cigarettes. Every machine was winking at me, urging me to give it my money.

There are more than 3,200 slot machines and 50 tables, so it’s no wonder I was overwhelmed. Where to start? I had $10 (I know, I’m poor, OK?) and a lot of places to gamble it away. I don’t know how to play cards, so I knew that was out. How about the slot machines? Maybe Keno? And how much should I bet? One cent? A quarter? A dollar?

After much deliberation I chose a 5-cent slot machine. My boyfriend stood over me and instructed me on the mechanics of gambling and how to work the machine. I don’t know if it was the smoke in the air or the champagne, but I had no clue what he was talking about. I just pushed buttons, pulled levers and hoped for the best.

And that was it. $10. Gone. In the first 15 minutes.

Others were luckier. I saw an elderly man win a jackpot at the slot machine behind me. One of my friends won $350 at Blackjack. I guess it just wasn’t my night, but I didn’t let it get me down. I had learned my lesson: Learn to play Blackjack.

While I probably won’t be a big-time winner anytime soon, I would definitely do it again. I don’t really care that I lost my money. It wasn’t much, and I still had a blast. I was at a casino with my best friends and my boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. And, to me, that’s the jackpot.

Contact features reporter Allison Smith at [email protected].