"$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling) is the tenth episode of Season 5. It first aired on December 16, 1993. The episode was written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein, while Wes Archer directed. Gerry Cooney and Robert Goulet guest star as themselves.
During a town meeting, Principal Skinner pitches the idea of opening a casino. Mr. Burns adopts this notion and builds the "Mr. Burns' Casino." Homer takes a job as a blackjack dealer and Marge takes up gambling. At home, Lisa is having difficulties with her school project and Bart opens a treehouse casino.
The economy of Springfield is in decline, and Mayor Quimby listens to suggestions from citizens on how to improve the economy. Principal Skinner suggests that legalized gambling has helped rejuvenate run-down economies, and that it can work for Springfield as well. Everybody likes the idea; even Marge agrees to it. Mr. Burns and Mayor Quimby work together to build a casino, but Burns objects to several prototypes until he develops his own design: Mr. Burns' Casino, with "sex appeal and a catchy name".
The casino opens, and Homer gets a job as a blackjack dealer, a popular one at that since he is so bad at it that everyone at the table always wins except him. Also visiting the casino are Marge and Bart. Bart wins a jackpot, but is kicked out, as minors are not allowed in American casinos, unless accompanied by a responsible adult. Bart says the casino was stupid anyway and the squeaky voiced teen laughs, sarcastically telling Bart to build his own casino. He does and makes it in his treehouse, featuring Milhouse and Jimbo as entertainers. While Marge waits for Homer's shift to end at Mr. Burns's casino, she finds a quarter on the floor and uses it to play a slot machine. She wins and almost immediately becomes addicted to gambling. Meanwhile, while Burns's casino is a success, Burn's becomes even more reclusive and eccentric, developing a profound fear of microscopic germs. He grows a long beard, long fingernails and toenails and wears pajamas all the time. He forces Smithers to wear a hospital gown and makes a model airplane, the Spruce Moose, which he seems to think is real.
Due to her addiction, Marge spends every waking moment at the casino and neglects the family. When Lisa wakes from a bad dream of the boogeyman, a gun-toting Homer hides himself and the children behind a mattress in terror, shooting from his cover at anything he thinks might be the boogeyman. When Marge finally returns home and sees what has happened, she promises to spend more time with her family instead of gambling. The next day, Bart intercepts Robert Goulet to perform at his casino, when he was hired to perform at Mr. Burns's casino; Goulet is a hit (singing the children's favorite "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells"), despite accidentally smacking Milhouse with his microphone. Marge forgets to keep her promise, and does not help Lisa make a costume for her geography pageant, so Homer makes a primitive costume of "Floreda" for her (which is not just misspelled, it is also shaped like California). Lisa, along with Ralph Wiggum, who dressed up as Idaho using nothing but a sheet of looseleaf paper that says "Idaho" taped to his shirt, both receive special awards for being "children who obviously had no help from their parents".
Back at Burns's casino, Mr. Burns has mentally degenerated, wearing Kleenex boxes on his feet and designing a plane called the Spruce Moose. Smithers admires what appears to be a scale model of the plane, but Burns insists that it is the full-sized version. Homer bursts into the casino, and barges around searching for Marge. (Interestingly, while Homer's rampage is supposed to be destructive, every thing he passes by causes players to win jackpots.) The security cameras capture Homer's rampage, and when Burns sees him he orders Homer to be fired. Smithers promises to send Homer back to the power plant. Realizing how much he misses the plant, Burns decides to return and orders Smithers to prepare a shave and get rid of the Kleenex boxes, although he decides to hang on to the jars of urine he has been preserving. Deciding to fly back to the plant, he orders Smithers to board the model plane...at gunpoint.
With begging and earnest attempts at support and understanding, Homer persuades Marge to admit that she has a gambling problem. She finally realizes the neglect the family has been suffering and returns home, ashamed of herself. She considers therapy but Homer objects: "No, that's too expensive, just don't do it anymore."
Homer then rubs it in Marge's face and tells her that her gambling addiction was worse than his flaws, such as "stealing all those watches from Sears" and letting an escaped lunatic into the house "because he was dressed like Santa Claus."
In its original American broadcast, "$pringfield" was watched by eleven million households. The episode was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week. Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics.