|Twenty years ago Bill Compton was a successful Philadelphia businessman in his early thirties. He was doing well in manufacturing and retail. Then he got the urge to walk into the Golden Mines Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City and find out what casino gambling had to offer.|
If you're a high roller as Kearney became, one benefit is free meals, free rooms, and free everything else. With comps on top of the excitement of a big time casino, it may seem that high rolling is a dream of dreams coming true. The more usual casino visitor will come with a certain amount of money he or she can lose, lose (or win some), and go home. But ' ... then there are those who can afford to bet on a regular basis and do it quite often,' writes Nicola McLaughlin in The Northeast Times, in Philadelphia, who wrote the original report on 'Comped'. Before these people know it, ...'they are hooked and spend millions of dollars. The thrill of winning is too powerful for (them) to ignore, and it becomes the one thing that, in many cases, causes them to lose everything. This type of scenario is just what author Bill Kearney explores in his novel ...'
'Comped' is told through the character of Richie V., a successful businessman in the northeast, not unlike the man his author was. Kearney became a regular at all the Atlantic City casinos, and 'considered himself to be addicted to the casinos, but not necessarily to gambling,' reports McLaughlin. 'Richie V. (also) falls in love with the high-rolling casino lifestyle.' His obsession changes his life.
The Golden Mines has since closed. Bill Kearney has since recovered from his need to roll high under the glittering lights. He has written an adrenaline driven roller coaster ride of a novel as part of his transformation back to success. But his ambitions for 'Comped' have been about a lot more than his need to personally recover.
'Everybody that gets caught up in them (the casinos) gets hurt, so I figured, hey, I want to tell this story,' says Kearney. 'I want people to know that when you walk into a casino and your feet hit that floor, there's danger ... You get in there and you get mesmerized by all the excitement, the sound. They're treating you like royalty, and what they try to do is take your left eye out and tell you that you look better without it. Once you win, there's no way out.'
Kearney describes 'Comped' as the book the casino industry wouldnt want you to read.
Casino gambling is legal in many places now, of course. But it is one of those legal activities that have to be done in moderation. Kearney said, ' ... If you want to go down there (to your casino) and lose a couple hundred, fine. Get out of there. But don't go down and try and make it every weekend. Don't let it become a part of your life.'
Kearney will probably do much better as a writer than a high-roller. But success in writing has not come easily. 'I got a billion rejections from (the publishing companies),' Kearney said about his struggle to get 'Comped' into the public domain. 'They loved the book, they loved the story, but none of them felt that there was a market big enough for a story about a person who got in bed with the casinos.'
That remains to be seen.
'Comped' was completed in 1988. Kearney spent ten years trying to find a publisher. A few months ago he published the book himself through his own publishing company, The Ian Scott Press (www.ianscottpress.com). 'Comped' is reportedly in demand and sells online for $15.95.