I just returned from my first trip to Las Vegas.

To answer a question I get surprisingly often: No, I haven’t won anything. I lost quite a bit of money, actually. Are there people who somehow manage to get back from Vegas in a better financial situation? It doesn’t seem possible.

In any case, I appreciated. It’s interesting to see a place so totally and completely dedicated to adult tourism (it’s obvious to say that there is no Las Vegas without tourists, but that underestimates how every square inch of the city ​​is designed for people from elsewhere). In my experience, it’s really only comparable to Orlando – except, thankfully, Las Vegas is not a family destination.

By the way: don’t take your kids to Vegas. I know, I know, they want you to think of it as a family vacation destination. It’s not. Your kids, in fact, want to go to Orlando. Take the whole family to Disney; leave them with a babysitter when you go to Las Vegas.

Aside from this cranky digression, the parts of the trip that I have left are shows and experiences. i can’t stop talking Omega Market, the sprawling and eerie immersive art installation (or is it live theater? or both?) by Meow Wolf. I make scary friends jealous with an account of the haunted museum, a macabre collection of historical and supposedly cursed and / or possessed artifacts. The cabaret-style show “Absinthe” – a mix of burlesque, acrobatics and unfiltered debauchery – was a good time.

I ate well (and too much), drank well (and too much), and spent hours wandering around sprawling resorts. And when I think back on that trip, I think… oh yeah, I guess I played?

To reiterate what I said above: I did it. I know because there is a lot of money that I don’t have any more. But, while I enjoyed my time at the tables, it’s not particularly memorable for one simple reason: I can do it here.

Playing Blackjack at Fremont Street is not a significantly different experience than at Rivers Casino. Sitting in front of a slot machine at MGM Grand isn’t much better than playing the same game at Meadows.

Thirty years ago, when legal gambling was primarily limited to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, perhaps gambling was the draw. Now, however, you can lose your shirt both at home and in the wilderness.

In fact, based on my limited experience, you might lose a little (a little) less here than in Nevada. (If you’re not a player, the rest of this paragraph won’t make much sense, so feel free to move on.) While the house still wins, I noticed two differences in the Las Vegas tables: If you are at a good casino, the minimum bets are higher. (At Bellagio, most Blackjack tables had a low of $ 50 per hand, with a few crowded strayers at $ 25 – and others at $ 100.) And if you find one of the old school casinos, you will get lower minimums, but you will also get worse odds; when I was playing Blackjack at Four Queens, for example, a Blackjack paid 6 to 5 rather than 3 to 2.

This is not to tell you not to go to Las Vegas; I would definitely recommend you to do so. For 24 hour entertainment, mind blowing attractions, and experiences that you just can’t find in most other places, you should go. I am thinking of going back there soon. But if you just want to play a few games – within reason, never bet too much, only play with what you can lose – there are plenty of perfectly suited casinos in western Pennsylvania.

And steak and cocktails will be much more affordable. I may have lost money gambling, but it is not as much as I lost food.

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER for assistance. Play responsibly.