There it sits, in a forgotten corner of the MGM Grand Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. It’s surrounded by a hallucinogenic collection of modern slot machines — Deal or No Deal, Wheel of Fortune and Alien Vs. Predator, exploding in trippy displays of lights and music. And amidst it all, is this humble orange and chrome 1970s-era table, lit from the inside with a few incandescents and the dim digital read-outs of a bygone era. Inside the table, stand five plastic horses, lined up at the starting line of a miniature track decorated with little trees and bushes like a middle school diorama project. And gathered around the table is a collection of rough, tired, hard-on-their-luck gamblers, who are so down and out that all they’ve got left is a plastic cup full of quarters, which they dutifully pump into the table.
But then, something magical happens: the bell rings, the crowd leans in, the gate lifts up — the horses are off!