On Sunday I found myself with a unique opportunity.
I was returning from Columbia from Longview, Texas where I attended a niece’s wedding, to Columbia.
First let me say it is not the best thing for your physical health to drive 10-11 hours on a Friday and then turn around and drive 10-11 hours on a Sunday. And if you want to make it worse, attend an outdoor wedding in Texas. In July.
The wedding was beautiful. But really, there ought to be a Texas state law prohibiting outdoor weddings in July.
It was hot.
That, however, had nothing to do with how I wisely spent my time on Sunday – doing scientific research.
Obviously, my wife was required to drive – in fact she insisted on driving based upon my research idea – and that gave me plenty of free time to drink coffee, do my research and generally make my wife’s otherwise boring drive across Oklahoma utterly fascinating.
My big idea?
Counting cars. But not just any cars. I was going to count cars at churches as we sped down the highway. And then I was going to count cars at casinos as we drove through my native Sooner State.
Churches vs Casinos – on a Sunday morning. What better way to figure out what Okies are up to in July?
We left Longview early, before church parking lots would have been filling up. However, by the time we had re-filled our coffee totes and gas tank just north of the Red River in Hugo, it was prime Sunday School time.
We were driving on Highway 69, which runs from the Texas to the Kansas borders, four lanes through small towns past numerous churches, casinos and farm implement stores.
We first noted two churches across the highway from one another and, not surprisingly, the Baptist cars were filling the parking lot more rapidly than the Methodist – but not by much. This is, after all, Oklahoma and both churches have long led the state in setting the standards and laws which regulated all sorts of behaviors.
However, the lure of casino revenue was more than the Okies could resist and that is why just outside of McCalester, the Creek Casino parking lot was nearly full.
The Creek Casino was the size of four or five football fields and while we didn’t stop – only 520 fulfilled miles to go! – I’m pretty sure that most of those cars had been occupied by those who were currently gambling. A few might have been eating breakfast at the casino buffet, but I have no doubt they were soon to be asking for one more card and rolling the dice or playing the slot machine.
It was really no contest.
We saw several large churches, but their parking lots were anemic compared to the robust fullness of pickups, SUVs, and luxury sedans in the casino lots.
“No doubt about it!” I told my wife – who wasn’t really fascinated at all – “Okies, and their visitors, are at the casinos on Sunday mornings.
According to Rubin Brown, CPA firm in Kansas City, statistics, Indian casinos generated $29.34 billion in gambling revenues in 28 states in 2015. That competes well with $38.32 billion in commercial casinos.
Interesting. But I don’t think I’ll hear an “Amen” from churches.