When I pulled down on the lever, nothing happened. Confused, I mentioned this to a nice woman playing nearby, who informed me this particular one-armed bandit took $100 chips.

I was flabbergasted. I did not know such a thing existed.

It would be just as productive, I reasoned to the woman, to step outside of the casino and throw $100 bills in the Big Muddy.

She did not agree, but for the most part, I stand by my statement.

On occasions, I have ventured back to casinos during visits to my in-laws’ home in Helena, Arkansas, which is near to several Mississippi casinos.

On those visits, I have played mainly blackjack – with a $25 limit to lose. On most occasions, I have left $25 lighter in the wallet, but on a few special occasions – on one particularly lucky night – I did a fairly good job of growing that $25.

And I must confess, I occasionally play in a friendly poker game with a ridiculously low buy-in. Even if I lose all my chips, I literally still spend less than I would have spent on a movie with a coke and popcorn.

So, it is fairly cheap entertainment.

I say this to stress I am no prude on gambling. And while I seldom, if ever, drink alcohol, I am no prude on that either.

So, I am not trying to say it is good or bad, but the Republican super majority in the Mississippi Legislature and in the governor’ office have greatly expanded the vices available to Mississippians.

That is noteworthy because Republicans are considered – and tout themselves – as social conservatives.

And the folks who generally oppose gambling and drinking beer and alcohol normally support Republicans in large numbers in Mississippi.

But since Republicans gained control of both chambers of the Legislature and the Governor’s Mansion in 2012, they have passed a steady stream of legislation to make it easier to get a drink. They have made it easier for city folks to vote to legalize liquor without giving the people in the county a say in whether liquor or beer is sold in a particular county.

They have made it more attractive for beer makers to operate in the state. They have passed a law that allows people to drink outside in certain areas.

And it recently has come to light that during the 2017 session, legislation was quietly passed with nary a word spoken that would make it possible for Mississippi casinos to offer sports betting pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Now supporters of the sports betting legislation say that was an unintended consequence of legislation designed to legalize another form of gambling – fantasy sports.

Now, I think the supporters of the fantasy sports bill are being truthful when they say they were not focused on sports betting in casinos when they passed the bill during the 2017 session. But by the same token, the same supporters of the legislation say it would be a mistake for Mississippi casinos not to offer sports betting if the U.S Supreme Court strikes down a federal law, as expected, preventing most states from allowing sports betting.

To be fair, it is true that Republicans were in a distinct minority in the Legislature when casino gambling first was approved on the Gulf Coast and along the Mississippi River in the early 1990s.

But in the 2000s, it was Republican Gov. Haley Barbour who led the charge to allow the Gulf Coast casinos to move off the water after the devastation they suffered from Hurricane Katrina in 2004.

And it is Republican Gov. Phil Bryant who now has at least broached the possibility of allowing gambling statewide in the form of a lottery.

As stated earlier, this is not to say the expansion of the so-called vice laws is a good thing or a bad thing. It is just what it is.

For me, I might still spend an evening playing poker. And I might even walk into a casino with $25 in my pocket.

But there is absolutely no possibility I will expand my thinking enough to put $100 in a slot machine.

 BOBBY HARRISON is the Daily Journal’s Capitol correspondent. Readers can contact him at (601) 946-9939.