Legal Gambling

Days removed from their 18th birthdays, Andrew Miller ’13 and Gregg Myerson ’13 drifted around the tables, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the casino floor.

The perpetual pinging of the slot machines soon faded into background noise once they uncomfortably took their seats at a blackjack table between a middle-aged Asian woman inhaling her Marlboro Golds and a large, tattooed man betting $200 per hand.

The $15 minimum table they frequented was the lowest available on a Sunday night at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif., 30 miles from the Palm Desert home of Myerson’s grandmother.

They made small-talk with Tyler, a dealer for 10 years, as he dealt the two novices some favorable cards. But their early luck quickly turned south and both walked away losers after forfeiting $150.

Miller said going to the casino made him come to terms with his newly acquired adult status.

“I felt old when they asked for my ID and I was allowed to stay,” Miller said.

While many fresh 18-year-olds celebrate their adulthood by buying cigarettes, Miller and Myerson decided they would prefer the casino.

“Gambling in and of itself is not necessarily a ‘responsible’ activity,” Myerson said. “But I felt I handled myself in a responsible way.”

Myerson made his second trip in three days to the 18-year-olds-welcome Indian Casino after his older brother surprised him on his birthday.

At the casino, Myerson would consult a handy card his brother gave him that outlines the situations in which the odds say to hit, stay, split or double-down. It brought him good fortune on the first trip, as he came away $100 richer, but lost his previous winnings plus $50 more on the return visit.

“Losing is hard,” Myerson said. “But part of the game is knowing when to walk away. Everybody loses sometimes. I set a limit for how much I would lose at $150 and that was it. I wasn’t going there to make money, I was going to have fun. If I were going to a concert or a basketball game, I would have to pay to get in and have fun. At the casino, anything I might have won would have been extra.”

Miller said going to the casino was worth the trip, “I had fun with my friends and it was a good way to blow my birthday money.”