When Plainridge Park Casino finally opened its doors Wednesday, the crowd that had gathered outside rushed in with urgency.

And the staff treated them like conquering heroes – standing and applauding, heartily, as their enthusiastic customers filed by. At the front of the casino, a velvet-voiced emcee talked up the dining options: Flutie’s Sports Pub! Freshly shucked oysters at Slacks Seafood and Oyster House!

Nearby, a woman did her best impression of a Las Vegas showgirl—though she insisted that her feathered headdress and floor-length red gown were no big deal. “I mean, there are some other showgirls here, too,” she said. “You know, their outfits are a little different. Very flashy, very cool.”

I came to Plainridge Park on a mission: I wanted to see just how much fun $40 would get me. My first stop: a battery of electronic table games staffed by fetching virtual hostesses, some of whom were dressed rather…immodestly.

Then, the wagering started. I didn’t do too well. In fact, I wasn't even sure what I was playing—and I lost ten bucks within about five minutes. 

On to the slot machines! The choices there are dizzying: there are machines that evoke classical mythology ("Roumulus and Remus"); machines that make you feel a bit Rat Packy-y ("Sammy Davis, Jr.," complete with animated images of the cat himself); machines whose names promise free play, but aren’t actually free at all.

Since I’d started my day on a tawdry note, I went with the most family-friendly option available: a slot machine called "OMG! Puppies."

As I played, I got some free advice from a seasoned gambler sitting to my left.

“You go to gamble only for fun,” she said sternly. “Don’t take too much money with you. And enjoy yourself. That way, when you lose it… And only gamble what you can afford to lose!”

Turns out, losing ten dollars on "OMG! Puppies" took less than five minutes—and left me reeling. Between the losses, the flashing lights, and the jangling sounds of more than a thousand machines, I desperately needed to regroup.

So I headed to the food court. The plan was to eat, and then keep on gambling. But as I scarfed down my burger and fries, I had an epiphany: I didn't need to lose forty dollars to get a sense of what Plainridge Park feels like. I already knew what it feels like. It’s exciting! Then you lose money. Then you’re exhausted. And then, you’re really, really hungry.

Armed with that self-knowledge, I decided to all it quits. But I’m pretty sure that Plainridge Park Casino didn’t even notice my departure. As I drove away, the cars were backed up for a quarter mile waiting to get in.