Lovely Traci is a self-described risk-taker who enjoys casino gambling. She also likes to volunteer with her spare time.

“The thing I love about gambling,” Traci explains, “is really more the idea of gambling than the reality. I mean, sure, I know that gambling is all rigged, especially in big casinos. Casinos are designed to separate you from your money. It’s all kind of a big game, really. There are no windows, so you won’t be aware of the passage of time. There are no clocks inside the casino, either. Everything is designed to get you in and keep you playing. And once you’re inside, they arrange slot machines to pay out more where they are more visible, to lull you into the idea that you’ll have big winnings coming. And of course the machines pay out, just enough to keep you feeding them money so that anything you win will eventually be raked back in by the house.”

Traci continues, “You have to know that’s how it works, because cities like Las Vegas rose from the sand on dollars donated by gamblers who didn’t grasp it. You can’t expect to take the house. You can’t win over the long term. You may win in the short term, but casinos have ways around that, too. When you are a big spender and you win big, they comp you rooms in their hotels, give you free chips, and ply you with other enticements to get you coming back. You become a “whale,” in their terminology. You’re a big spender and a big target, something for them to reel in and bleed dry.”

So why does Traci love gambling so much? “I know all this about how gambling works,” she says. “That’s because I’m a grown woman. You’ve got to be able to acknowledge how the world works even if you like something. Like, I enjoy the holidays, but I know Santa isn’t real. That’s just how grownups approach reality. But what I love about casino gambling is that it’s the ultimate test of that reality. You can make as little or as much as you let yourself. If you’re up, you can stop. If you’re down, you can quit. You can totally control just how much you lose, up to a point. You can set aside money and tell yourself, ‘This is what I’m spending.’ And while you’re spending your money, you can have fun! I love the atmosphere in a casino. I love the energy. I even love the old slot machine addicts playing the machines, although sometimes you can tell somebody shouldn’t be allowed to keep playing. And I love drinking in casinos. For me, it’s a whole experience.”

Volunteering is something that Traci finds very fulfilling. “I think if you can’t give of your time in this world, you don’t deserve to stay among humanity,” she says. “There is so much pain in the world. There is so much need, and so much suffering. People need a chance to be helped. They have to let others in. They have to set aside their pride and allow themselves to be helped, but they also have to want it. Did you know most of the time, shelters go with beds empty, even though there are people on the street who could stay there? That’s because shelters have rules, and a lot of these people are too stubborn or too proud, or too dependent on drugs or alcohol, to spend the night in the shelter being told what to do. I love helping people because I think, despite ourselves, we could all do with a little assistance.”

Traci continues, “I think of that old rock song, ‘I get by with a little help from my friends.’ It’s why shared adversity brings out the best in people. It’s why people bond when they face something together. When you help people, and when you trust them enough to help you, you forge these bonds that you remember for a lifetime. Life is all about making connections to other people. When you build those relationships, when you put that time in, you can make connections that stick with you forever. I think that’s beautiful.”