Her name was Drusilla and she was in a state of shock on the carpeted steps. In her hands she clutched the shiny key to her new Kia and a stack of documents declaring her a winner. She had been just one contestant in a heap of others, but here she was, the owner of a spanking new ride.

“How does it feel?” I asked her.

“Wow,” she said. “Oh, wow.”

Drusilla had just won a 2010 Kia in the latest drawing at Hollywood Slots in Bangor. She was stunned, all right, and almost shaking with the joy of it. But strangely, I don’t think she was the most excited person I saw that night.

Earlier, there was a woman of perhaps 85 seated at a slot machine called Wheel of Fortune. Good things had happened when the dials stopped spinning and the old woman pumped a wrinkled fist in the air. A second later, her head snapped to the left and then to the right. The smile of glee turned into something more savage as she scanned the room to see who had witnessed her triumph.

I don’t mind telling you, I somewhat bolted before the nice lady decided I’d seen too much.

However you feel about a warehouse full of gambling machines here in northern Maine, I’m here to tell you this: There are many who flat out love it. On a Saturday night with plenty of good stuff on TV and foliage to peep at, Hollywood Slots was packed.

By my standards, anyway.

“Our weekends are always good,” said Director of Marketing Jason Birney. “That night, the crowd was actually smaller than usual.”

It didn’t look small to me. What shocked me when I first walked in the place was the sheer number of slot machines. They have a thousand of them and a hundred different varieties. When you peer into the space, it’s like looking at a galaxy of gleaming metal, of cherries and bars. Any of them can be yours for a single penny or a 10-dollar bill — whatever your gambling threshold may be.

What shocked me more was how many of those machines were unavailable. Everywhere I looked, a man or woman was seated before one, jabbing buttons and watching the dials with gritted teeth.

They came for traditional reel and video slots, video poker or video roulette. They sat for the most part in solitary intensity before machines called “Village People Party,” “Hot, Hot Super Jackpot” or “Monte Carlo” and waited for the big bucks to come clanging out.

Only, the big bucks don’t come clanging out anymore. Winnings are delivered in the form of a slip of paper that exits from a slot with barely a whisper.

I got the feeling that the lack of coin sounds isn’t a concern to the ardent people who cram this space. This isn’t Las Vegas. Sure, the carpets are thick, the machines gleam and there’s a buffet just a short limp from the machines. But the mood of the place is that of a group of people who come to play and to win, period. Forget the sights and sounds and all that superficial crap. This is a tiny Vegas, maybe, but one without the annoying tourists getting in the way.

This is a place where three times a month, you could win a car. You could go in with 10 dollars and leave with thousands. If you’re really motivated, you could check in to the casino hotel and perhaps take advantage of deals such as the Getaway & Get Pampered Package for $279 per night.

The lounge features 34 televisions and 12-flat screens showing national simulcast racing along with interactive horse racing and other sporting events.

I don’t know a bunch about gambling. But if you’re into that kind of thing, it seems fairly clear that you’ll like this place. If you’re in it for the people watching, save your gas money and hit your local bingo hall. Either way, watch out for the old woman with the big winnings.

She’s got a heck of a left jab, as it turns out.

What: Hollywood Slots Hotel & Raceway

Where: 500 Main St., Bangor

When: Gaming area is open Monday to Thursday 9 a.m. til 1 a.m., Friday 9 a.m. til 2 a.m., Saturday 8 a.m. til 2 a.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. til 1 a.m.

More: www.hollywoodslotsatbangor.com


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