Full disclosure, I am not a casino person.
Since the Seneca-Allegany facility opened in 2004, other than a few shows and the occasional dinner party that required a stroll through the gambling area, no visit involved gambling a single penny.
Slot machines seemed like a noisy way to siphon money from your wallet and, being an old-school guy, I was also concerned that technology (read: computer chips) would decide the odds to win.
And card games, they are quite easy to organize at home with your friends.
Obviously, casinos look the way they do because there is a market for what is on offer.
And, no, I’m not anti-gambling at all, although some people who say so don’t see the hypocrisy of buying lottery tickets or playing bingo.
But when it comes to betting, we all have our preferences.
In my case, it’s NFL and college football games and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. A dead friend of mine took bets from his buddies for years, technically illegal, of course, and we would end up settling for our modest bets.
FOOTBALL appealed to me because the short schedule seemed to guarantee maximum effort from the players. And in the NCAA, it’s one and done, and with that one chance, participants tend to leave it all on the floor.
Oh, I had rules. Ethically, I’ve never bet on a Bills game and knowing that football teams just needed to win – college or pro – would never give more than a touchdown betting on the favorite .
Anyway, with the passing of my friend, I hadn’t bet on ANY game for over two years.
At that time, sports gambling was permitted in an increasing number of states, but what really fueled my concern was the recent legislation allowing mobile betting.
Starting in January, television was filled with ads for Caesars, FanDuel, Bet MGM, Draft Kings, Bet Rivers and similar sites.
The idea that betting on a sporting event was a mobile app gave me chills, especially since these ads were so well designed to attract potential bettors. All, after a customer signed up, offered ridiculously long odds to ensure an initial win or rewarded a loss with an introductory bet credit of up to $1,000.
As one online sportsbook reviewer noted, “It’s crazy they’re trying to kill each other.”
For me, mobile betting is one of the worst laws ever passed. A problematic gambler with a cellphone app seems particularly at risk with the sites’ cacophony of ads suggesting, “It’s just how much you want to win,” especially if that person is alone and there’s booze involved. .
THEN ALSO, the idea of giving a debit or credit card number to a bookmaker makes me apoplectic.
But, when this year’s NCAA was about to begin, I thought there had to be a betting alternative.
Sure enough, the Seneca Nation’s three western New York casinos all have their own sportsbooks.
After some quick research – the key being that these bets are cash only – I went to Salamanca to make a few bets and maybe get a column of my guess as to what the screaming fans would be like watching the games unfold. on the television.
However, half an hour before the first whistleblower of the opening on Thursday afternoon, there were two people in the sports lounge, me and another guy.
There was no one in the ticket vendor/cashier area, that chore easily handled by four 24/7 betting kiosks.
After a quick tutorial from the only other bettor out there, I made ten $10 bets – you can bet as little as a dollar – and was gone in minutes. The ease and convenience amazed me. That first day I went 8-2 on my bets, which certainly served as an incentive to come back, which I did before each day’s games. By the end of the tournament, I was ahead of the money – albeit with small bets – and it was even with Kansas one point behind the four given in the final.
But I had fun doing it, without a big investment and with the security of knowing that my bets were made in cash and not with a card.
Unfortunately, during my stops at the casino for the NCAAs, the Sports Book was sparsely visited and it occurred to me that the reason for this might be mobile gaming. Was a smart phone and credit card starting to prevent in-person betting? After all, recent statistics indicate that 45% of sports betting takes place online.
And if so, in my mind, that’s far from a good thing.