Monday, March 23, 2009

You Can Sleep When You're Dead

It's 11:30 p.m. on a Sunday as most of the city sets their alarm clocks, and prepare for the work week ahead... but somehow, under the pitch black desert sky, I'm having trouble finding parking at the Casino Del Sol

The casino, open 24/7, demonstrates that although scattered headlights are the only thing illuminating the surrounding road, the establishment has no concept of turning out the lights. 

"Between 11 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. we usually have between 130 to 150 people on the weekdays," said Amber Phelps, a floor attendant at the Casino Del Sol. 

But who are these people? Who frequents a gambling establishment in the middle of the night on a Sunday? Truthfully, I expected to witness a small, scattered group of individuals who would be pulling slots with one hand, and dialing their Gamblers Anonymous sponsors with the other. 

While entering the casino, an elderly couple joining hands as they walked to a new group of slot machines killed that assumption. To my surprise, that wasn't even the only elderly couple there. It was... busy. The crowd is no different from normal, it's still cowboy hats, younger crowds with University of Arizona apparel, and a variety of other players from all walks of life. 

"30 to 40 percent of the people here are regulars at this time of night," said David Cadena, a floor attendant. 

The other 60 percent appear as eclectic as the crowd on a Saturday afternoon. 

The casino's black jack tables, slot machines, Moby's restaurant, bars, and hallways are populated. Upbeat pop music, and classic '80's hits blare through the casino's speaker system, competing with the relentless slot machine chimes. Hardworking waitresses scurry through the sparsely populated hallways with trays of drinks to deliver to thirsty gamblers. The dealers, security and staff all seem alert. It's business as usual. 

According to the staff, things will only get busier. "People with money start coming in between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. in the morning," said Cadena. "Sometimes they don't leave and stay for days."

With no adjacent hotel, there is no orthodox place in the casino for gamblers to sleep, but the Casino Del Sol's illuminated sky blue ceiling serves as an artificial shot of vitamin D and energy to all casino guests. If you don't keep track of what time it is, the casino has no intention of reminding you. 

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