Feeling Lucky...

I don’t often blog about matters political, but I’ve got some opinions about a current topic that I’d love to vent. Plus, I’d like to hear your take on the issue.

It’s casino gambling.

Since we’re surrounded by states that have them, Massachusetts is considering approving 3 casinos and a slot parlor. It’s supposed to create jobs and add gajillions in taxes to the commonwealth coffers.

I’m of two minds about it. On the one hand, I have my sister-in-law’s experience with a casino near her very tiny Iowa town. The casino did create lots of service industry jobs in an area where any job is appreciated and needed. The casino has also been a huge benefactor of the local schools, from giving lap top computers to every child to providing full scholarships to the regional community college to every graduate.

My DH and I have squandered $20 a piece at this casino a time or two. We go into it knowing we’ll only spend that amount and that the house will likely take it all. It’s mildly entertaining to watch the blinking lights and occasionally come out ahead. I can take it or leave it and generally consider it a tax on the willing.

But not everyone can take gambling so casually. When I was a banker, a customer came in one day totally distraught because her account was seriously overdrawn. Once I pulled up the computer records of their account, she saw that her husband had been playing online poker with their household accounts and losing badly. He’d lost the money they needed to meet their debt obligations, pay their light bill, and buy food. The money they lived on. My customer stormed out of the bank, her ire transferred from us to her husband.

I hope he got some help to deal with his gambling addiction. No one thinking clearly would risk the welfare of their family on a turn of a card.

Which takes me back to my great-grandpa Clyde. He was a good-looking devil, a hard worker, and a bit of a bad boy. My great-grandma Mina had her hands full trying to reform him for over 50 years. The roughest patch they hit was when Clyde’s weakness for poker led him to wager and lose their house! Clyde was as scrupulous about honoring a gambling debt as any Regency dandy, so his family was suddenly homeless. Even though she was pregnant with my grandmother, Mina left him.

I don’t know what he said to convince her to take him back, but she did. And when I knew them, she had 3 houses! One in Missouri, one in Minnesota and one in Florida. Guess she was hedging her bets.

But Clyde never completely kicked his gambling problem. He always managed to find some action. Clyde and my dad were both railroaders and when he’d already lost all his walking around money in a poker game at the other end of the road, he’d catch my dad and ask him, “Bobby, can you spare $20?”

I shudder to think what mischief Clyde might have gotten himself into if there’d been a casino at the other end of his run.

So what do you think? Do you live in a  state that allows gambling? Have you seen an uptick in crime (organized or not so much) associated with it? Have the revenues generated benefited your area? Do you know someone with a gambling addiction?

9 thoughts on “Feeling Lucky…

  1. Sandy says:

    When casinos first came into my area, I was all for them. It would be a once a month night out for dinner and entertainment. My thoughts have changed a bit on that.

    I will say the casinos have been a huge help to the smaller communitites around our area. The people who worried about the crime and prostitues were wrong. It’s helped schools and the whole community. They’ve hired many employees in our area. I admit the upper management comes from casinos in other areas,but thats only normal for any company.

    I do admit the casinos have damaged the people who have come addicted, but these same people are addicted to other things, too. I’ve heard of people losing their homes, and it’s caused divorces. I think all of these things would have happened anyway. You can’t keep people from their demons. Smile.

  2. Quilt Lady says:

    No gambling except maybe with the horse races! Although I sometimes wonder if they are trying to get it in.

  3. I watched Foxwoods and Mohegan Suns go up around my sisters house in CT. While there are definitely benefits, I have serious doubts the benefits outway the problems. There is more crime in her community, none of which is attributed to the casino because the stats only log crime on casino property. Not what happens when people get in their car and go out into the community. She’s personally experienced people stopping at the school bus stop to ask a 7 YEAR OLD directions to the casino. Traffic nightmare. And my sister’s car was burned by someone rifling through it to find money or whatever they could sell because they dropped their cigarette and ran when someone saw them. Unfortunately no one saw the lit cigarette until it caused damage hours later. None of that happened before the casinos came in. She’s since moved.

    I also did a project several years ago on the problems with casinos in a community. There is study after study that shows domestic violence, bankruptcy, addiction, divorce and such are all higher within a 50 mile radius of a casino. You put one in each of the 3 corners of Massachusetts and there will be no escaping it.

    Regarding jobs…most of the professional jobs will come from out of state. My uncle is a dealer and he’s moved from New York to Florida and now to Pennsylvania when a casino opened up with a better paying job. They’re going to hire who they know. And the construction jobs are only a quick fix. They’re not a long term solution. The only benefit to the community is that restaurants, gas stations and convenience stores will have a bit more business because of the traffic. That’s important yes, but not at the cost of higher crime. We need professional jobs in Massachusetts. Casinos aren’t going to do it.

  4. Ashlyn Chase says:

    Hi Mia,

    I have the same mixed feeling about it as you do. My state (NH) has been debating this as a means of needed revenue. We already have a horse track that’s been here for years. I don’t know anyone personally who’s gotten into trouble with the ponies. Like you and your hubby, me and mine will set a limit. When it’s gone, it’s gone. We can quit while we’re ahead and my hubby often does. He came back from Vegas $100 richer than when he left. In Atlantic City he treated us all to dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe, courtesy of one of their establishments. It’s nothing we can’t live without though.

    I’m a firm believer in free will. I think sometimes we protect people from themselves too much. Lord knows our kids are coddled at times. If we outlaw gambling, why not have prohibition again? Drunk driving has caused more deaths than drunk gambling.

    I did write a book where the hero seemed to have a gambling problem, but it wasn’t anything he couldn’t give up for love. The book was Queen Of Hearts and it’s no longer available. If you’d like a copy, I can probably dig one up. (grin.)

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Guess you’re right about not over-protecting people. Wish the government would keep that in mind when they’re trying to regulate our fat and salt intake at fastfood restaurants too.

  5. Barbara Britton says:

    Living in Wisconsin, the native tribes run the casinos. I have never been to a casino in my own state but I have been to Vegas and California. Since we still have budget issues in Wisconsin, casino’s aren’t a money panacea and the state and tribes have been in and out of court. We don’t have much organized crime, but then would a kingpin want to live in Chicago (Illinois has gambling) or Green Bay?
    I find casinos dark, smokey, noisy, and since I don’t drink, they’re not much fun.
    I know of people who have addictions to gambling. The casinos can spot someone who has this problem too, as they will send cars to pick you up and massage your ego with drinks and free food.
    Personally, I think there’s more fun to be had than gambling, but I will occasionally spend my $20 like Mia.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      As I said before, my type of gambling is a tax on the willing. Ditto about the smokiness. Ew.

  6. catslady says:

    Actually, we had a new one built in our city and my daughter is a cage supervisor which means her license doesn’t allow her to gamble anywhere in our state. It’s a decent job. I also like to play the slots with one of my friends once in a while (and I never take more money than I am willing to lose). But because she works there, I am not elligible for promotional prizes and giveaways but I can win at the slots or tables. They employ over 3,000 employees and the revenue does help. They are contributing to our new hockey arena among other things.

    I don’t think you can protect people from themselves. There are many vices out there from alcohol to drugs etc. It is unfortunate that some people have no control but in a way it would be a form of censorship (which I hate in any form) to keep it from everyone. And I really think preventing things (remember prohibition lol) makes people find a way and then it’s the criminals that make out the most.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Your comment is why I’m ambivalent about the issue. I can see both benefits and detriments to having them.

      You’re right that we can’t protect people from themselves. Otherwise we’d have to outlaw Cold Stone! LOL!

      But having the state involvment in setting up the casinos and receiving so much revenue for approving them…it sort of makes me go hmmmm. And I wonder where the money trails actually lead. All for an industry that produces nothing tangible.

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