The good news about these casinos is that you can place a minimum bet of about $2.50 if you want to. The bad news is that you get what you pay for.
I’m standing at the roulette wheel at the Jaragua Casino in Santo Domingo waiting patiently for my winnings when the dealer begins to roll the ball before he pays me. I don’t know how to say, “Dude, are you blind?” in Espanol, so I frantically make some hand motions. Fortunately, the pit boss sees what happened and intervenes. If she doesn’t, I’m pretty sure this guy is ready to just say, “Too bad, gringo, we’re on to the next roll.”
On the island, the mistakes are bound to happen because they are designed into the business model. The dealer wasn’t trying to screw me, but what he did was allow people to begin placing their bets before he’d cleared the table. In the confusion, he’d forgotten about me. It wouldn’t take much to fix this, but, as I soon find out, the management has no clue how to run one of these places and they aren’t about to hire a decent croupier.
The pit boss is a little embarrassed and wants to try to make it up to me so she sends a girl over to get my drink order. By now, I’m ready for one, and am pleased to see they actually provide freebies to the gamblers, or at least to the whales like me that are betting $5 a roll. So this overstuffed girl ambles over in a tight bustier and, with a look bordering on the contempt one normally reserves for pedophiles or Congresscreatures, takes my order without a word. By the time she returns with my drink the moon is high in the sky and I’ve moved on to the Blackjack table.
So I take a sip from my vino and find out they have the same wine supplier as the Blue Bay Resort, 2014 Welch’s, vintage May, which, apparently was a very bad month for that varietal.
To my amusement, the Blackjack dealer almost gives me money on a hand I lose. Once again, the pit boss steps in to save the house, in this case. A few minutes later, the same dealer tries to short me. Twice in one night!
Next up in the rotation is a kid (friends call him “Trainee” according to his badge) who misdeals on the third hand. Instead of starting over, he just flips the cards out as if nothing unusual happened. I’m still not sure I got the right cards, but since I win I don’t care.
So I’m tired of dealing with incompetents and decide to move to yet another table like a migrating bird looking for the right pond, but I can’t find an open table. The reason is not, as you would imagine, because the tables are busy, but because friends of the gamblers have secured the primo seats around the tables and are discussing the game like like a family might talk Futbol at dinner.
It’s not just the amigos of the gamblers that have reserved a perch either. Lady’s handbags are left seated next to them. A brown Butterbean lookalike has managed to sprawl across two seats. Between them all, there is nowhere to go.
But perhaps it’s for the best, after all. It’s obvious the casinos here just don’t care. I could see it in the faces of the employees every time they yawned or even rolled their eyes. So why should I?
I don’t, and head over to the Atlantis Casino attached more or less to the Crowne Plaza. Unfortunately, all they have are slots and one of those ersatz roulette machines that substitute poorly for the real deal. Hookers, pimps, and losers are pulling levers and pressing buttons in a desultory fashion. I’m not even sure they provide free drinks. No thanks.
That’s the kind of professionalism and joie de vivre you can expect at the casinos of Santo Domingo, or at least the ones I visited near the Malecon. I’ve never seen such employee apathy in all my gambling days, even at the Inn of the Mountain Gods in New Mexico.
Speaking of which, they should take a cue from the American Indians and let the professionals run the show while they scoop up all the profits. That would relive them from their ennui, I would hope.