It's no Vegas. You shouldn't say its name in the same sentence as Monte Carlo. And Reno? Maybe on a good day. But regardless of what it's not, it still sits at the other end of the expressway, beckoning to Penn students with a free night and some of their parents' cash on hand. Do you hear it? Atlantic City is calling out your name. I remember the first time one of my friends actually mentioned a trip to Atlantic City -- "A.C." in Penn-speak. On my family vacation to Las Vegas, the only gambling I got to do was throwing quarters into an airport slot machine while my parents were in the bathroom. My blackjack experience was limited to playing against my computer in the days before I downloaded Snood. But there I was, hopping on the train for an hour-long trek to one of the sleaziest parts of the Jersey shore. It's an interesting thing to consider -- we attend a university that has a decent social life, and happens to be located in the second-largest city on the East Coast. With a little bit of effort, anyone could find something to do any given night of the week. None of them would require an hour-long drive or train ride, and none would have the built-in risk of losing money attached. Regardless, Penn students continue to look towards the glittering lights on the coast for a source of entertainment. Let's face it: Penn students aren't idiots. We all know what we're getting into when we set foot into those casinos. There's every chance that the roulette wheel is going to take all hard-earned our money. Actually, our parents' hard-earned money. Any one of us could turn into a horror story in an anti-gambling pamphlet. In theory, many of us could be arrested for gambling -- you know, that whole "age restriction" thing. But since it's a gamble to even make the trip in the hopes of having fun, why stop there? Perhaps that risk is what makes the trip so appealing. The idea of free money certainly tempts me -- and gambling is a lot more fun that psych experiments. Besides, winning cash definitely tops a night at LT's on the fun scale; sometimes even losing money tops a night at LT's on the fun scale. Among A.C.'s draws, we have to recognize the "forbidden fruit" appeal. Gambling -- at least in casinos -- is probably one of the last prohibited acts in which any of us will indulge. And it doesn't even require ID. In most casinos, once you throw that cash on the table, you're legit, age-wise. When you add the attraction of the gambling to the complementary alcohol every casino provides to its gamblers, I wonder why more Penn students aren't spending their nights on the shore. Atlantic City actually brings together all the things our parents don't want us doing, all for our amusement -- and our money. In essence, it seems like Atlantic City may be the ultimate playground for Penn students. As long as you've got your ATM card and a positive balance in your bank account, you're set for a night of fun... right? Unfortunately, in typical college student fashion, we love to overlook any problems that might get in the way of our fun. And just like drinking or smoking or drugs, gambling addiction can be a debilitating problem. When sitting at the blackjack table, there is that compulsive urge to keep gambling. But when that urge carries into your everyday life, you need to be careful and be aware of how gambling is impacting your life. Thankfully, however, most of us know how to stay in control of our (parents') money and our own gambling tendencies, and we can enjoy the occasional drive down the Atlantic City Expressway to the sleazy mecca on the other end. Whether they win or lose, all the people I know who make that drive come home after having had a great time. And, after all, do you really have anything better to do on a random Wednesday night in the middle of the semester? Throwing money down the toilet might be a more direct method of achieving the same results, but facing off against an annoying dealer provides much more entertainment. Just remember to double down on 11.Comments powered by Disqus
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