Saturday, June 16, 2012

Asian Eyes' USA - Biloxi Casino Cat and Mouse

              I went to school in USA back in the early nineties. Time flew by very fast. Most of my housemates - Jacky had graduated and left USA in mid-October, Arthur has moved out to stay with his girlfriend and Yon has transferred to another state. Only left Tony, who still had another 6 months to go, and I, was due to graduate a week before Christmas. We moved to a smaller 1 room apartment to cut down on rental cost. By late October I was into my oral exam which was compulsory to pass in order to graduate. I was busy doing my revision and have no time fishing. My rods had not seen action for the last couple of weeks. On a daily basis I drove to Dauphin Island, picked up fishes and shrimps, back home to pack and then off to UPS to send them out. Some requests cannot be fulfilled because they were either not in season or I simply cannot get them. Business was fluctuating, on average I was getting $3K orders per month, after expenses I still half left. Repeat customers were many, some even defaulted on their payment. It was part of business risks. One thing for sure I still gave out some free fishes now and then, and also make small donations to Red Cross. By then I was able to pay my tuition fee and my living expenses on time and do not have to cringe for every pennies. 

State Trooper - one like this stopped me
Albeit all this I by no mean an angel. I ate out most of the time now but that was not my biggest issue - a new casino had just sprang up in Biloxi, Mississippi. First time there with Vince, a friend visiting from UK, initially planned as a curios visit, to see what a casino in USA was like. Riverboat was synonymous with Mississippi river. The casino was on a barge, which gave it the appearance of a land-based building, rather than a riverboat. It was permanently moored at the dock and they were not permitted to cruise in adherence to the gambling law. We were on our way back from a trip to New Orleans, after thronging the famous Bourbon Street and had a chance to catch live women wrestling. The wresting match was a fake of course, nevertheless we cheered the champion. 

On the way back from New Orleans the next day, I were stopped by a state patrol trooper for driving too slow on a freeway! I drove an old Chevrolet Chevvette, which I bought for $900, insurance was not compulsory at that time, but it just couldn't go fast. The patrol trooper signaled for me to stop via its flashing red light. I drove to the side, stopped my car and through my side mirror I saw the trooper approached my car from the left. In true Asian style, I tried to alight from the car but the trooper immediately stopped and pulled out his revolver! I was white with fear. He yelled "stay in the car, stay in the car". Oh Oh, I did not know what shit I was in then. I did what he told me, and then when he comes along side my window, revolver still in his hand, he sternly yelled again "put your hands on the dashboard, now". In America when a state trooper or policeman stopped a car, one is supposed to stay in the car unless being instructed otherwise. 'Shows me your hand' meant to show that one does not have any weapon on hand. I did as I was told. After seeing my empty hands he put back his revolver to it holster and asked for my driving license and ID. I also showed him my passport and student ID. Flipping through the papers the policemen told me the do and don't when stopped by police. He then asked me to do a breath analyzer test and walking the straight line test, to see if I were intoxicated. With negative result the trooper told me normally a car driven too slow on freeway, most likely the person behind the wheel was DUI  or drunk. He advised me not to drive too slow on freeway and bade me safe journey. I thanked him, took back my papers and continued the journey to Biloxi. Phew! First time being stopped for driving too slow, and a lot of lessons learnt too.
Isle of Capri casino, still in operation today


One arm bandit - beware, it steals money
The Biloxi casino that I went to was the first casino to open there, The Isle of Capri. Buffet lunch at restaurants surrounding the casino was very cheap, something like $2.99 all you can eat Chinese buffet. We had our fill before we stepped into the casino. There was no checking for any identification if you are over 21. It was red carpet treatment as the casino had just being opened the day before. It was quite crowded but I noticed quite a number of Asians on the gambling table. "Hmm, Asian likes gambling", I said to myself.The din and the clang of slot machines had me converted from a passive loafer to try my hand on one arm bandit. I remembered the casino also served free drinks and beers, and skimpily dressed waitresses worked for tips. I won $200 playing roulette.That night we have a great dinner at a Hong Kong restaurant back at Gulf Shores. By then I was hooked and keen to see more action. Second visit to the same casino, I lost some initially, followed by more and more. The losses did not hit my senses. I access ATM again and again to withdraw money. At last the ATM flashed out that I had hit withdrawal limit for the day on the screen. That message jolted me up.It was a costly lesson, but a good one. It took me a while to come around - I was in USA to study and casino should not be part of my agenda. I have not revisited the casino since.
Me and Zhang from China, my 
competitor  

             Sam had since gone back to fishing and he rounded even more buddies, some regulars in other paid jetties, to supply to me. He reserved the premium fishes for me. Unknown to me, my hobby turned small time business had attracted competition. Someone in my neighborhood has done a copy cat act.  He was Asian, a student also, used to work part time as a pizza delivery boy and now out to make extra money. The problem with this guy, he was the impatient type to do his own fishing. He resorted to buying fish and sell, and even offered a higher price to Sam. Sam resisted the offer, stating that he only sells his fish to me. I was flattered but I did just the opposite. I asked Sam to sell fish to the guy, especially when more fishes were caught. I had wanted him to earn more. After I reasoned to him, he seems more receptive and not long he had some dealing with the new guy too. My competitor and I crossed path many times, initially it was only nod of heads with each did their own thing. I believe I have own clienteles and he had his as well. Sam declined my offer to raise my price to him. “Special price for you” he grinned, showing his stained teeth as he puffed his cigarette. Good ol’ Sam!

Location: 151 Beach Blvd, Biloxi, MS 39530, USA
Tel: +1 228-435-5400

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