Friday, November 13, 2009

Disturbing Massage News

The San Francisco Chronicle ran a story Tuesday about massage in casinos:
Reno casinos offer massages to lure gamblers
"Gil's youthful and licensed therapists provide back, neck and shoulder massages to tired, cranky or worn-out gamblers while they sit and play. Casino executives see the massages as a way to keep the players playing with a strategy that experts called a unique way of boosting business in a recession."
Normally massage has two general purposes- To improve health, or for enjoyment.  Both contribute to the well being of the receiver.  Here instead massage is being used to enable unhealthy behavior.
"A lot of people will play at a table game or the slots for hours and hours," said George Owens, director of slot operations at the Silver Legacy. "But sometimes they want to take a break, maybe their shoulders hurt and they'll want to walk around. But they can't walk around sometimes because they don't want to lose their machine."
This is completely contrary to the professional ethics instilled in me during my massage training.  Relieving pain, improving athletic performance, helping someone deal with stress or feel blissful, yes.  Making it possible to sit for hours at a slot machine, no.

Another critical ethical concern for a massage therapist is to respect the physical and emotional vulnerability of the client during and after the massage.  Massage works very well at relaxing not only physical stress, but the normal emotional caution a client may have.  On a casino floor this could mean, no doubt intentionally, that a gambler's judgment on when to quit is impaired.  Does this sound like a healing act?
"I don't want to leave," said Joe LeBel of Ione, Calif., as he sat at a poker table and enjoyed a massage. "We were going to go to dinner but I have forgotten about that, too."
Massage is a tough business.  There is a lot of competition, and the downturn in the economy has many people cutting back on what they consider a luxury.  The work is physically very difficult, and the pay often low.  I have sympathy for therapists who may need to work in what has to be a terribly unpleasant environment for providing massage.  Doing it is still wrong.

On a positive note(as it were) I've got a new big band swing mix for background massage music ready to go.  Seventy plus minutes from Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Les Brown and more, picked for being not too peppy.  Think "Sentimental Journey" but not "In the Mood."  Bach and New Age still available.

1 comment:

  1. I agree 100% on this. There is also a trend down here in Miami for the "resort" spas to offer massage and martinis for businessmens happy hour.

    I feel that massage should not be performed where alchohol is being served or in casinos.