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The scourge of underage drinking and gambling ...


I was shocked, I say, shocked to learn the other day that underage teens frequently try to infiltrate the adult playground of Las Vegas for purposes of drinking and gambling.

This news surfaced by way of tweeting from one Marcus Jordan, 19-year-old son of Michael Jordan, who told the world about spending $35,000 at a single resort and $50,000 for whole day.

The sophomore guard at the University of Central Florida could hardly be described as your typical college student or even jock. He reportedly had already had a good talking to from both his parents about it; Nevada Gaming Control Board officials are looking into the matter, presumably with the ultimate task of scolding the Las Vegas strip nightclub where this took place.

But as always, these kinds of scandalous revelations end up making me a bit queasy as they conjure up memories of underage gambling and alcohol consumption from my past, which, admittedly is a lot further in the past than Marcus Jordan’s.

So before some enterprising journalist digs it up, I’m gonna confess to having booked a few horse racing bets while I was a 16-year-old high school sophomore in Upstate New York, to say nothing of whatever actual bets I may have made in those days.

The drinking age in New York back then (circa 1966) was 18, so if you’re gonna fudge on that threshold, that means even younger ages like 16 and 17 are going to come into play.

Thus there was a time when I could get a lunch of chicken and biscuits and a bottle of Genesee Beer at Al’s Dixie Grill and still get back to school in time for sophomore-year trigonometry. Those lunches had absolutely no bearing on my failing trigonometry, which I was perfectly capable of doing even without the application of alcohol.

At the same time, I worked more than 20 hours per week at a leather factory where you could place a bet on the races at Aqueduct, Belmont or nearby Saratoga without even having to face the inconvenience of going up or down a flight of stairs. Four floors, and a bookie at your disposal on each one.

I grew up in either a particularly sophisticated era or area, or maybe both. I just wanted to mention this to put Master Jordan’s adolescent playfulness into some kind of context.

With that kind of jack at his disposal, we’d have made him the secretary/treasurer of our treehouse.


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