BATHED in the glow of neon light, an army of bleary-eyed punters frenziedly feed coins into row after row of slot machines, hoping to hit the £1m jackpot. Anyone who has stepped inside one of the glitzy gambling Meccas that tower over the Las Vegas skyline will be familiar with the scene.
But while the bright lights and dazzling facades that light up the Nevada desert may seem a million miles away, the whirr of onearmed bandits gobbling up sterling could soon be heard in the centre of Croydon.
Ameristar, a US gaming giant with 24-hour, seven-day-a-week "super-casinos" in cities across the US, has targeted the town as the next outpost in its lucrative empire.
The company is one of a number of major casino firms hoping to cash in on the Government's new gambling Bill that would allow them to build similar venues this side of the Atlantic.
Ameristar has already held talks with Arrowcroft - hot favourites in the race to redevelop the Gateway site next to East Croydon station - with a view of including a casino in its plans.
If the two parties can strike a deal, a gaming venue could sit alongside the 12,500-seater indoor sports arena as part of its multi-million pound proposals for the nine-acre plot.
While those who enjoy the occasional punt may jump at the chance of tasting the Vegas-style experience, critics of super-casinos warn that the illusory lure of easy money will put vulnerable people at the prey of gambling sharks.
The Government is convinced that gaming venues will be a major coup for town centres such as Croydon, boosting the nighttime economy and creating jobs.
The possibility of such a venue coming to town is nothing new. A plan to build one at the Royal Oak Centre, in Brighton Road, Purley, was rejected in 1998 after a backlash from churches and residents. Croydon Council's official stance is against casinos, but this policy is likely to be reviewed in light of the Government's new legislation.
Council leader elect, Tony Newman, said: "The council's policy is that we are against casinos. At the moment there are no plans to build one in Croydon.
"If the law is changed it would be our duty to consider any proposals, but for us to take a look at anything it would have to be of the highest standards and it would be in full consultation with the people of Croydon."
Those likely to be against a casino include the Rt Rev Nick Baines, Bishop of Croydon, who said it would be putting the borough's well-being at stake.
Mr Baines warned of the "corrosive effect" that large-scale gambling would have on individuals, their families and the wider community.
"If this proposal was to go further I would certainly be one of those who would strenuously campaign against it," he said. "The presence of a serious gambling venue in central Croydon will send out a message that gambling is acceptable.
"It also raises the question of what sort of values we are promoting among young people and vulnerable people."
Richard Ottaway, Tory MP for Croydon South, who voted against the Government's controversial gambling reforms in Parliament this week, urged caution.
"We need to be very careful before signing up to an American-style, seven-day-a-week casino in Croydon," he said. "We have enough problems as it is adapting to the night-time economy.
"We already have bingo, the Lottery, scratch cards, on-line betting and the bookies. For those who crave the roulette wheel there are 35 casinos in the centre of London. Do we really need this sort of thing at the heart of our community?"
The likelihood of a super casino at the heart of Croydon depends largely on the success of the Government's controversial gambling Bill and would have to win the council's backing.
But for those who fancy a flutter it remains an intriguing possibility.
Place your bets now.