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?