I've never done an illegal drug in my life. In fact, I've never even smoked a cigarette. I'm pretty square, in case you didn't know. I figure I'd be one of those sad cases where a cigarette lead to a joint, lead to some acid, lead to some heroin, lead to some cocaine, lead to a forgettable prison demise. It's the gateway theory.
Well, this weekend, I came across Vegas' own version of the gateway. It's called Dave & Buster's.
This isn't the first time I've ever been to a D&B's, but it is the first time I noticed just how pervasive the Vegas-like games are. Wheel of Fortune? Check. Horse Racing? Check. The Big Wheel? Check.
Leaving there, I wondered whether or not the operations were owned, at least in part, by a company with gambling interests. My limited Google research came up empty in that regard. D&B's is currently owned primarily by the private equity firm Wellspring Capital Management. That doesn't mean there isn't some gambling in its past, however.
David Corriveau and James "Buster" Corley are the men behind the franchise, and one of Corriveau's early jobs was as a blackjack dealer in Vegas. The very first D&B's in Dallas 26 years ago included cashless blackjack. In 1994, a Texas judge ruled that the restaurant could, in fact, give away prizes worth more than $5 in exchange for tickets won while playing games.
As we all know, it's not a far cry from winning tickets to winning money. And although the company says its target audience is adults from 24-44... I'm fairly certian the number of kids out-numbered the number of adults while I was there. Of course, places like Chucky Cheese have been perfecting the kiddie gambling racket for years, but this is different. When the games look virtually the same, the intent seems rather clear.
So am I arguing this is a bad thing? Not a chance... Start 'em early. That's what I say. The sooner they learn how to lose their money, the sooner they start losing it to me!