A Reno tourist guy

Chris Mason

Photo by Megan Downs

It was pretty close to freezing Tuesday. Around 5 p.m. the sky produced an unusual gray hue. The Reno strip did not contain much of a crowd, but there were a some die-hards out there, eager to cash in on the casinos’ big deals offered early in the week. A few of the people I ran into on the strip Tuesday were attending a business convention. But most were retired citizens who have moved on to a life of part-time gambling. Without these faithful tourists, the Reno gambling industry could never survive. Amidst the clouds of women with white hair wearing tennis shoes and trailing their suitcases on wheels close behind them was a single man willing to talk to a reporter for 15 minutes out in the bitter cold. Chris Mason of Oakland, Calif., wore a large fishing hat to protect him from the ever-changing Reno weather. He is 55 and recently retired, and somehow, the soft clanging of nickel slots sets his body into vacation mode.

Have you ever been to Reno before?

Yes, about 20 times. I live in the Bay Area, so I get a bus ticket through an agency called Lucky Tours. I get a room, and for a single person, it is only $105. That includes a three-night hotel stay for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I stay at the Sundowner Hotel. I like Reno because the weather is cold, and I just like the city. I like to watch people gambling, plus it is close to the university.

Have you been winning or losing any money?

Not really, but I did lose about $3 on the nickel machine.

Is that the only machine you play?

No, sometimes I play roulette. I like those games because they are simple and cheap.

How many times a year do you visit Reno?

This is my first time this year and I came twice last year. Reno is a convenient vacation spot for me because I don’t have a car, so I come over here on the tour bus.

Where is your favorite place to stay?

The Sundowner. It is close to everything, and I can watch television there. Like tonight, I am watching the president make his big speech.

Has your vacation been fulfilling?

Yes, it is relaxing, and I love to walk around downtown.