Thursday, January 24, 2013

This is a Post on a Blog, and That's Why It's Not a Blog Post: On Casinos, "Gaming Centres", and Euphemistic Language

Oh, hello there. How are you? Ah, that's good, that's good.

Me? Oh, you know, keeping busy; I've decided that this year will be a year of projects for me, big sweeping surprising exhilarating projects, and big projects do not just simply plot themselves. Some of these also happen to be projects that will require a fair chunk of funding, which is why it is fortunate that I am also currently working two jobs (another reason you don't hear from me terribly often as late) and eating primarily rice.

So, yes, life's been good; I've been quite content to work away on my schemes, and I should be able to get all of my major initiatives going in peace and quiet, just so long as we can go for a little while around here without something insulting everyone's intelligence.

...hhhhh. Well, it was nice while it lasted. All right, let's break this down.

Lotteries Minister Steve Ashton, just returning from his commercial shoot for Jell-O Pudding Pops --

-- found himself a busy man over the past few days, not only announcing the Province's entry into online gaming but also fielding questions about a new downtown casino scheduled to arrive this spring.

There are already fine blog posts elsewhere about the potential drawbacks of the plan and the potential impact on the immediate area, as well as a lively radio discussion about the governmental implications, so what I'd like to do right now is take a bit of time talk about the word 'casino' itself -- particularly because, for strange and suspicious reasons, nobody involved in any way with the casino wants to use the word 'casino'.

It goes further than that, in fact -- not only do they not want to use the word 'casino', they do not want you to use the word 'casino', nor do they want anyone at all to use the word 'casino' in describing the TNSE-owned, government-operated venture. ("[Lotteries spokeswoman Susan] Olynik insists it is not a casino".) The absolute-not-casino, I should note, will be a 5,000-square-foot facility containing no fewer than four blackjack tables, two poker tables and 140 slot machines -- and if that combination happens to sound an awful lot like a casino to you, it would seem you are not alone.

(If you'd perhaps thought that the usage of the word 'casino' is dictated by the comparative size of the venue, you may be surprised to learn that Vancouver has at least two similarly-sized or smaller casinos.)

See, in defining a 'casino' -- because words have meanings -- not only will the definition in each dictionary boil down to essentially the same concept (Merriam-Webster has it as "a building or room used for social amusements, specifically" -- their emphasis, not mine -- "one used for gambling"), but the federal industry standards are very clear about this:

Do you have both "table wagering games" and "other gambling activities, such as slot machines"? In one place? Yes? You're a casino. Full stop. I'm terribly sorry, but this is how it works; I didn't make the rules, nor did I give the words their meanings.

So why, then, is everyone involved in the not-casino so adamant about erasing the word 'casino' from the collective lexicon? Why the sudden overbearing adherence to a purposefully vague euphemism, and why the repeated outright denial of any attempt by anybody else to invoke the actual, perfectly descriptive, formally defined, universally recognized term? And just what in the holy hell is their preferred, designated, mandated euphemism -- "gaming centre", of all things -- supposed to mean?

Well, I'm sure you'd wondered about that just as much as I had, so here -- brace yourselves -- here is the actual, official reasoning behind the distinction in terminology:

"Manitoba Lotteries spokesperson Susan Olynik told CBC News the facility is being called a gaming centre, and not a casino, because it will offer higher-stakes gambling."


"Olynik said the new centre will feature 140 slot machines that offer higher prize payouts than video lottery terminals (VLTs)."


A casino is an establishment with table games and slot machines where you gamble for money. But this isn't a casino, because this establishment with table games and slot machines is where you gamble HARDER for MORE money. The exact purpose that makes it a casino is the exact purpose that makes it not a casino. This is the official government position.

You are not allowed to address a given concept with its given term because the concept matches the understood meaning of the term too well. Whatever anything means, that's what it's not. Everything you know is wrong; black is white, up is down and short is long.

So it got me to wondering -- how do we have to approach everything else, now?

Oh! Why, look, everyone -- it's a machine that makes coffee! Now, as you might remember, from back when words had meanings, this machine -- because it makes coffee -- has traditionally been referred to as a "coffee maker".

But wait a second!

It can make up to twelve cups of coffee at once? Well, so much for that, then; with that kind of output, it can no longer even be considered a 'coffee maker', because it offers so much coffee. And if you dare try to call it a 'coffee maker', we will pitch a fit, because that is how things work now here.

Besides, y'know, really, 'coffee' is such a loaded term, too; there are just altogether too many unsavory connotations around the word 'coffee'. (Especially to people who remember that whole Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas thing.)

But worry not, everyone -- with leadership like ours, never again will the tyranny of descriptive terms rule:

God, I feel so much better now. But wait, what's that -- what's that creeping into the frame behind it?

Ah! Look, everyone -- here we have what is sometimes referred to as a 'toaster'! It is called a 'toaster' because it toasts, making toast out of bread by toasting it until it is toasted.

This toaster, however--

--is set to toast higher than other toasters usually are. This makes it a HIGH-STAKES toaster, which means IT IS NOT A TOASTER, BECAUSE THAT IS HOW LANGUAGE WORKS IN MANITOBA NOW



What does that thing do? Cook rice? Well, what have we been calling it? A 'rice cooker'? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, THINK OF ALL THAT RICE IT CAN MAKE

There! Perfect!


YES! Now we're talking!

Here's a chair! Here's a chair that folds! GONNA NEED SOME HELP HERE GUYS



ha ha ha ha ha, oh, you

Well, it's been a liberating day, but y'know what, I just can't go to bed until I brush my teeth--






But seriously, though. "Gaming Centre"? Piss right off.


Anonymous said...

The official government bootleggers also use the phrase "Be with child , Without alcohol".
Tell that one to the Supreme Court.
It's a foetus,comrade.

Anonymous said...

SInce True North is gauranteedd 4 Million a year, I would call this more " Loan Repayment to Credit union plus additional funding for the SHED "

All courtesy of the taxpayer. Thank You very much.

( and they say we don't have money to fix roads. Bwahahhhaaaaaa. Payup sucker )

One Man Committee said...

Brilliant post.

Who knew that we don't actually have gambling and casinos in this province? We just have gaming and gaming centres.

Maybe we don't have murders either, just involuntarily-caused expiration?

Gee, I feel so much better about all this!

Ryan said...

I was laughing out loud by the time I got to "GRAIN STEAMING APPARATUS."

More seriously, I have to guess this insistence on not saying "casino" is some thinly-veiled classism thing. Gerard says in the article, "I don't think that this is an appropriate place, right by that food court, with so many families coming through."

And so Olynik tries to address this sort of concern. "Don't worry, there won't be any sort of undesirable crowd around our casino. They can't afford it." Or no wait, she says, "This isn't a casino because it's high stakes."

Erik said...

My toaster goes to 11...

Marty Gold said...

Might I point out that BOTH the NOT-A-Casino and the Cheeez Whiz stories were broken by our programming.

Anonymous said...

"Manitoba Lotteries spokesperson Susan Olynik told CBC News the facility is being called a gaming centre, and not a casino, because it will offer higher-stakes gambling."

So... it's a SUPER CASINO!

Anonymous said...

Aha the NDP.

It's not "Hallway Medicine", that is a bed. Don't you see the piece of paper taped to the wall, that makes it a bed.