?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

title or description
And the winning number is zero

In his State of the State Address today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York should amend its Constitution to legalize Las Vegas-style casinos.

Let's get to the economics issue later, because the key issue is a moral and ethical one—distinctions that our elected officials seem unable or unwilling to recognize these days. The key issue is that gambling is not a harmless activity. It's not as if the governor is advocating the establishment of badminton or bocce leagues throughout New York.

The National Council on Problem Gambling acknowledges that most adults who choose to gamble do so responsibly. But the council also points out that 2 million American adults meet criteria for pathological gambling in a given year. Another 4 million to 6 million are considered problem gamblers—people who experience problems due to their gambling behavior. (More here)

An article from Harvard Health Publications of Harvard University states: "Compulsive gamblers have high rates of depression, mania, alcohol and drug abuse, and some personality disorders. In a survey of Gamblers Anonymous members, 22 perecent reported panic attacks, 72 percent reported an episode of major depression, and 52 percent reported alcohol abuse. As in all such situations, it’s difficult to distinguish between causes and effects. The results of irrational betting while intoxicated lead to more drinking. Gambling losses cause depression, which leads to more gambling. Eventually, whatever the origin of the problem, the pattern becomes self-perpetuating." (More here)

Other research suggests gambling can lead to homelessness, suicide, divorce and crime. Despite these factors and others, though, the governor would like to open more casinos in New York. But let's assume he has in hand research that contradicts everything I've just written. This does not offset the fact that when people gamble, they lose money. Despite the occasional slot machine jackpots, people lose money. The state's take of gamblers' losses (casinos' winnings) is really nothing more than a new tax disguised as a game of blackjack or a roll of the dice at a craps table.

Let's set aside for a moment the very real costs that problem gamblers pay personally. Let's think instead about all of those adults who gamble responsibly. The opening of casinos throughout the state isn't going to give those folks more disposable income. They may gamble some of it away, but in the absence of nearby casinos, they are going to spend that disposable income elsewhere—tickets to an NHL or NFL game, a couple of nights of dinners and movies, or maybe a weekend getaway to an existing casino. The state already is reaching into their pockets when they spend those dollars. Casino gambling simply shifts disposable income from one pocket to another pocket for the state to pick. The amount of money in the pockets doesn't change.

What Cuomo's proposal comes down to, then, is a new tax implemented through new casinos. Unlike many taxes, though, this one comes with great personal and societal costs. Times must be very tough indeed if New York is going to rely on dice, cards and slot machines to help balance its budget.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
lancaster1250
Jan. 5th, 2012 01:58 pm (UTC)
Well said
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 5th, 2012 02:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks. This is a flat-out cynical ploy by the governor.
gregorypeccary
Jan. 5th, 2012 04:04 pm (UTC)
Agreed. I have a friend who worked in Vegas in the '60's and '70s. He's told me that many responsible family men came through town at the time (and probably still do so today), thinking they could better their family's life by "doubling down", only to leave town on a bus ticket purchased by the casino.
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 5th, 2012 04:07 pm (UTC)
Some people might say that information is anecdotal; I say it's a lot more "real" than cold, scientific studies.
nodressrehersal
Jan. 7th, 2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
When I think of casinos and gambling, I imagine driving on the 290, letting dollar bills fly out the open car window. I just don't get it. We might buy an occasional lottery ticket or join a fun pool of one sort or another at hubby's workplace, but that's the extent of our gambling activities.

Of course, we're always pondering what we'd do if we won a big lottery, so apparently we haven't quite connected the dots enough to grasp that you have to be in it to win it.
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 7th, 2012 11:09 pm (UTC)
I think our lives would change but not all necessarily for the better if we won tens of millions of dollars.
nodressrehersal
Jan. 8th, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC)
I dunno...I'd like to think we're smart, caring, and ethical enough to be good stewards if entrusted with that kinda dough. I'd like to at least have the opportunity to give it my best shot.
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 8th, 2012 03:49 pm (UTC)
It's not us I'm worried about, it's the outside world: All the worthy causes that would come calling (how could we possibly choose from among them?), all the scammers and rip-off artists, and all the criminals that would try to take advantage of us. No matter what good you did with the money, people would always expect more.

The only remedy I see would be to move to a community where everyone has money so you wouldn't stand out, and those folks definitely are not my peeps.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

Latest Month

March 2017
S M T W T F S
   1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031 

Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

“I try to leave out the parts that readers tend to skip.” – Elmore Leonard

“The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.” – Voltaire

• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow