Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
“What could James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and the League of Women Voters possibly have in common?” writes Frederick Clarkson at ReligionDispatches. And maybe politics makes strange bedfellows - or maybe, it’s that groups that can get quite heated in the debates about social policy and taxes can occasionally bridge that gap to work on an issue the crosses those boundaries.
The article highlights that coalition in Mass and has many other good tidbits - all important to remember as it appears that casinos and slots in some form will at least be proposed in the legislature once again, putting that coalition to the test a second time.
A lot of you probably remember from past casino posts why I’ve come out vehemently against casinos - so probably repeating them will bore you. But this article goes into stark details and I encourage you to read it. Some highlights:
“Predatory gambling,” Bernal says, “is the practice of using gambling to prey on human weaknesses for profit.” He points to the highly addictive nature of contemporary electronic slot machines and video poker as the primary source of the profound “social costs” related to gambling addition. “Slots are,” he says, “designed to make you play as fast as possible for as long as possible,” and in gambling industry parlance, “to play to extinction.”
The addictive nature of the electronic slots and their role as the main revenue stream of the gambling industry is not widely understood. Industry data show that 70-80% of the revenue of casinos come from these machines, and investors are not very interested in casinos without slots.
In a powerful video recently posted by Casino Free Mass in anticipation of the next round of debate over introducing casinos in the state, a prominent medical researcher compares a multicolored brain scan of a cocaine addict about to receive a fix and that of someone sitting at a slot machine. The same sections of each brain light up in ways that are indistinguishable.
“I think it’s cowardly,” said Laura Everett. ”We are going to sacrifice our citizens. We know that there are people in Massachusetts who will become addicted. What Patrick is saying is ‘you are expendable.’”
There are so many reasons to reject state-sponsored addiction (and yes, I have my issues with the lottery and other such state-as-pushers revenue), but the best reason is that, once you place a casino somewhere, you will develop addicts that otherwise would not have become addicted. There are practical questions, yes, such as how much these unfortunate souls would cost the state because of increased need for law enforcement, courts, and treatment - and how much net gain of revenue you would have from the casino with this in mind - but the true argument against casinos and slots (of any kind) is moral. A question of what, as the article states, “do we want our government to do”?
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