If you've ever been to a casino, you'll immediately recognize that bewildering mix of excitement, desperation, uncertainty, and dread.
There are the bachelor party bros, screaming nervously as their friend loses another $400. There is the person slumped over a slot machine next to four plastic cups filled with cigarette butts. A roulette dealer imperceptibly flinches as someone who just lost a week's pay puts another week down on the table, before doing their job and jamming the $100 bills into a box, out of sight; more chips, more chances to win it all back. No one knows what time it is but everyone is aware that the odds are against them, that everyone in this sprawling maze of a room is a sucker. What are we doing here?
Which is why it's been so amusing and disturbing to see the hunt for one of three New York City casino licenses completely operate on positive vibes.
Oooh, a Saks Fifth Avenue casino? A ferris wheel next to the UN? Hudson Yards? Coney Island?
Our elected officials aren't offering much skepticism either. The governor wants the massive licensing fees from each new casino—$500 million apiece—to go towards funding the MTA. The mayor wants them too, because they'll bring "good jobs" to the region.
Have any of these people actually been to a casino? Do they realize where all the money comes from?
This week on the Hell Gate Podcast, the staff traveled to the one casino that exists in New York City, Resorts World in Queens, to talk to gamblers there, and hear what they thought of bringing more casinos to the city.
We also sat down with contributor Neil deMause, who has reported on Mets owner Steve Cohen's not-so-sly bid to put a casino atop the parking lot of Citi Field—which also happens to be designated as state parkland.
Oh, right: we have a podcast! With the help of producer Lauren Vespoli, we're experimenting with how to aurally transmogrify Hell Gate for a general audience. New podcasts will be available every Friday, for free. You can subscribe to the Hell Gate Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you normally consume podcasts.
Drop us a line and tell us what you think of episode one, and if you enjoy our podcasts, please subscribe to Hell Gate so we can make more of them!