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Appeared in: Volume 9, Number 3 | Published on: December 19, 2013

David Blankenhorn is president of the Institute for American Values. This essay is adapted from his book, New York’s Promise: Why Sponsoring Casinos Is a Regressive Policy Unworthy of a Great State.

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  • Buckland

    Gaming houses provide a service that people desire. People are willing to pay for that service. A willing buyer and a willing seller. Why does that give you such heartburn.

    Sure people lose money gambling. But people also lose money when they go to football games and when they use their bass boat and on the shiny new convertible. All provide entertainment, and few people make money with any of them.

    In other words, who the hell are you to tell others which venues spending their entertainment dollars are legitimate and which are not.

    • Tom

      Because none of those things are so blatantly run under false premises as a casino, promising massive payouts.
      Casinos have been linked to, among other things, higher crime rates, unemployment, and various other social evils in a way none of the things you listed have ever been.

      • PKCasimir

        LOL! Casinos are linked to higher crime rates, unemployment..” The safest place in the world is the inside of a casino, surrounded by multiple levels of technical security and guards. Casinos provide over 1,000,000 jobs in direct support to them and tens of thousands of other jobs in support of the horse racing and breeding industry – as green a source of employment as there is.

        • Tom

          So, tell me, do you own a casino and just not leave it? Because that’s one of the few perspectives that would allow you to respond to a comment talking about higher crime rates in an area with casinos than otherwise with a comment about how secure casinos themselves are with a straight face.

          • PKCasimir

            Problem with trying to be clever is that it exposes you to just how uninformed and unclever you are. Casinos are among the safest places in the country since they have a higher level of security than most other places. I doubt that you have even been within 25 miles of a casino because it seems assume that it is a watering hole for violent criminals. Casinos aren’t. And casinos attract law-abiding people out to be entertained. I suggest you stop watching stupid Hollywood movies and start living in the real world.

          • Tom

            Take your own advice–both pieces. I don’t watch Hollywood movies, and my information comes from actually looking at economic effects of casinos and friends of my family who’ve lived in areas pre-casino and post-casino.

          • Corlyss

            Without discounting the validity of your family’s experience, it’s anecdotal. Anecdotal evidence is a horrible way to make public policy. That sort of “evidence” is what gave us Obamacare in the first place, and many other disastrous public policies.

          • Tom

            True enough, and I wouldn’t claim it solely on that basis. However, there are significant problems associated with casinos, and to claim that such are merely Hollywood-created fantasies is myopic at best.

          • Corlyss

            Fair enough.

          • PKCasimir

            You have just admitted that your views are not based on first hand experience or objective evidence which means that they are worthless and I will treat them as such.

          • Tom

            “my information comes from actually looking at economic effects of casinos…”

            “You have just admitted that your views are not based on first hand experience or objective evidence which means that they are worthless and I will treat them as such.”

            You have just admitted that your reading comprehension skills are equivalent to that of the average Youtube commenter, which means that your views are worthless and I will treat them as such.

            So, are we finished insult swapping?

          • PKCasimir

            You’re the one with limited reading skills. You provided no validated studies to back up your assertions just a vague statement that is worthless as an argument. It was you who started with the insults because you had no facts.

          • Tom

            Actually, you were the first to commit insult, having accused me of getting my information solely from Hollywood movies.
            Regarding the rest of it, I’m reminded of glass houses and thrown stones.

          • Corlyss

            Tom,
            Straw man argument.

  • free_agent

    Let’s also not forget that the voters are being bribed with the idea that their governments can get a source of revenue that is personally optional to the voters.

    • Corlyss

      I wouldn’t call that bribery. I’d call it smart salesmanship. It’s all true. The problem generally arises in the lack of discipline in the government that realizes the benefit of a “free” non-tax revenue.

  • Corlyss

    “Are you curious why so many U.S. states—New York recently became the 25th—are turning to casinos as a source of revenue, and why so many voters seem to favor the idea?”

    Not really. The states need the money. People are going to gamble, legally or illegally. Why shouldn’t states take advantage of human nature, regulate it, tax it, and make money too? American prudery has fought this trend way too long and not for the better of society, either. Eventually the nation’s resistance to this and state drug regulation will “age out” just like the opposition to contraceptives, abortion, homosexuality, and other phenomena have. I may regret it, but it really makes too much economic sense. Besides, the states who run lotteries “for the sake of funding education” are already more than a little bit pregnant. Once governments give in to the basic premise, they ought to go whole hog.

    • Brad Ackerman

      Lotteries serve an important function: they proclaim, in giant flaming letters, that legislators have no moral objections to gambling. The sole function of state regulation is to grab as much profit as possible; if its purpose was to mitigate harm from gambling, the last thing a competent regulator would do is spend hundreds of millions of dollars promoting this purportedly-evil business. ($400M as of 1996 according to NASPL, so it could even be over a gigabuck now)

      • Corlyss

        Precisely! There’s little substantive moral distinction between state run lotteries for “good” reasons and casino gambling for supposedly selfish and “bad” reasons. If reason ruled, legislators would quickly grasp the greater social benefit derived from taking organized crime and drug cartels out of lucrative businesses catering to human weaknesses.

    • Jim__L

      “Why shouldn’t states take advantage of human nature, regulate it, tax it, and make money too?”

      Because anything that is a major source of revenue for a state ends up being actively encouraged by the state. See the history of the Opium Wars for a spectacular example.

      • Corlyss

        So?

        • Jim__L

          At that point the Government crosses the line from being impartial to being actively evil… please tell me that you can see that.

          • Corlyss

            Well, actively evil would have to have behaviors analogous to the Brits’ behaviors that precipitated the Opium Wars. Right now I don’t see governments forcing people to gamble. Although I admit it could get to that. Reminds me of something I heard recently about Bob Hope. When Ca. legalized homosexuality, Hope quipped that he probably should “get out of the state before they make it compulsory.” Cracked me up. He really had the measure of the modern administrative state . . .

          • Jim__L

            All the Brits did was force Chinese officials (at gunpoint) not to impede the opium trade. That was all it took.

  • Pete

    I think that this was an excellent analysis.

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