When I was about twelve years old I regularly played penny-ante poker with a few of my friends from the neighborhood. One Friday night my friend Tom's dad came home from his job at the post office and horned his way into our game. I was winning and continued to win. As it got late I told everyone that I had to go home. Something interesting happened when I did that - Tom's dad said that I couldn't leave until I had given everyone a fair chance to win. Well, I stayed and lost all of my pennies before I left for home. It was a shameful night that would often be repeated in Tom's family.. how his dad took little Bobby's money.

That night I began to see the underbelly of gambling in the obsessive way that Tom's dad acted.. winning was more important to him than having fun. In my teen years I remember playing pool for money and it seemed that I was never good enough to win. I didn't like losing and began to realize that gambling a few dollars sucked the joy out of shooting pool. I guess that was my take away from these events - a friendly game of penny-ante poker and a competitive game of eight ball became something different when money was involved.

When my son was growing up I would sometimes say that I did not really believe in the gold standard. I would tell him that I believed in the work standard. In other words I believe that what makes paper money valuable is not precious metals such as gold or silver but precious labor. So often is the case with folks that gamble heavily and regularly do so because they are interested in windfall profits without commensurate work.

The Kansas City metroplex has four casinos and a new casino will be opening next June. Many people feel that this is a great thing for the area because of the increased tax revenue and jobs that are generated. In an article titled "The Gambling Scam on America's Poor" the Christian Science Monitor asks this question:

"What kind of government spends millions of taxpayer dollars peddling false hope to confiscate cash from its poorest citizens to fatten state coffers?"
Here are a few excerpts from that article:

"Three decades ago, there were no casinos outside Nevada, and only 13 states ran lotteries. Today 19 states support commercial gambling in densely populated markets near interstates, 28 states host Indian casinos, 41 run lotteries, and 43 allow track-side betting. Even so-called riverboat casinos have expanded rapidly as states lift wager limits to permit casinos they couldn't sanction on solid ground. Only Utah and Hawaii still ban gambling."
"Of the many ways government can raise money, gambling is the worst. It's regressive. And it can ruin lives.

To be sure, most states gain political support for their lotteries by earmarking them for appealing causes such as education, schools, roads, and parks. But there is no practical way to prevent a legislature from allocating these revenues to other reelection-prompting purposes – and most do.

Anyone comforted by the idea that gambling is voluntary should spend a day with the casino staffs that segment local markets, track prospects' and players' observed worth, define their predicted value, and systematically maximize individual "share of wallet" through targeted and customized promotional messages, limited-time cash offers, and carefully tracked time-to-response and spending analysis.

This is highly sophisticated and systematic coercion – and it works. At casinos such as Pechanga in Los Angeles, demand for drive-in slots has become so great that the parking lot is jammed on weekdays and two-hour lines often form on the weekends. State lotteries are among the largest buyers of radio advertising in their metro markets. What kind of government spends millions of taxpayer dollars peddling false hope to confiscate cash from its poorest citizens to fatten state coffers? The same government that spends more taxpayer money on ads offering help for addicted gamblers."
The article ends with this advice:

"In the next election, consider asking your state legislators whether their mandate is to serve or to swindle the people. No government should be running soak-the-weak scams."
As reported in this NY Times article, there is one presidential candidate who is an overt advocate of casino gambling. Possibly you may want to weigh this into your voting decision?


  1. I’m no gambler. I hated the idea of lotto tickets in Oklahoma but we vegas the ranks and many spend their hard earned cash chasing the money. I think I’ve spent about five dollars and did it the first week we got them. I did have to do an intervention with a friend who kept purchasing them for the kids the scratching them off herself then buying them and . . . you see the pattern.

    We have cassinos here now the Native Americans own them. The white man took their land and made them walk so now we take their money and make them starve. Revenge is better when served cold. The funny thing about those silly things is that someone always has a story or knows someone who has a story. I just dropped in the money and won. Please! More money is put in then comes out.

    My cousin was hooked and she lost her business and her marriage. I know people who can’t pay bills but go leaving small children at home alone. It’s sad very sad. No you won’t find me in one of those places. I’ve been to Vegas and Atlantic City, I don’t care to ever go back. Too many sad people.

    You did the right thing it letting him win the money back it was far more important to him then for you.

  2. Kansas Bob,
    I fully agree with you about gambling. I believe it's simply not in the heart of Papa.

    In fact, if you look at the states which have the most casinos (unfortunately, I live in a state that has many), there will usually be a decent population of people who live in the low-income bracket and also struggle with other addictions or problems.

    Indeed, even if the legislature "says" the money earned from gambling/related taxpayer monies goes towards good things such as education, healthcare in the're correct that much of the bills are earmarked-up containing clauses that actually hurt the state's economy by keeping such gambling-related organizations continually running.

    When money is funneled into casinos, that money is "lost" where it could have spent to purchase homes or products to help build that state's economy.

    Great post, Bob.

    I just recently found your page.

    Feel free to "drop by" my blogpage, read my posts, leave comments, and perhaps even add me to your Blogroll if you can.

    Walking In The Spirit

    ~Amy :)

  3. Very thought provoking, Bob. Of course the states make the claim that lottery money goes for education, but so very often the money disappears into state coffers, never to be seen again. It is a scam.......states have no business scamming their citizens. Detroit is now known as the Sin City of the North and it's become ever moreso since the casinos were built along the Detroit waterfront.

    BTW, an off duty Detroit police officer actually shot himself to death in one of the local casinos over a $20,000 gambling debt a number of years ago. It was very distressing for the city at the time, but now is largely forgotten.

  4. Lotto and gambling in general make me very uneasy. It's so easy to lose control, and having civil authorities encourage it and use its proceeds just doesn't seem right.

    Can you imagine the bravery of the politician who stands up against it? Are there any who do anymore?

  5. I hate gambling. I don't think there is any moral equivalency though to the other candidates support of abortion. Gambling is a waste of money and it can affect other adversely. Abortion kills and there is no doubt that it will affect the abortee. At least McCain isn't out there advocating for gambling as Obama is doing with abortion. And just because there is an angry rant about a gambling problem that McCain may or may not have, doesn't mean Obama is clean. The problem is there is no scrutiny on Obama and his values. Let's ask him in the debates where he stands on gambling. I think that it is important to know before we throw the other guy under the bus (which might be going to Ameristar).

  6. I understand that abortion trumps all other issues for many Scott.. I am just not one of those folks.. but I digress :)

    Not sure that I agree with youn on this..

    "The problem is there is no scrutiny on Obama and his values."

    ..I think that McCain and that right-wing fair and balanced cable news network has probably surfaced all the dirt that it can find on Obama.

    ..I do also wonder why the left-wing main stream media has not followed up on the NY Times article on McCain and gambling.

    ..maybe there is a media conspiracy at work after all :)

  7. I don't get fox so I don't get that dose of scrutiny. I'm stuck watching the garbage that most people have to, the local or network news. It used to be I didn't watch the first 10 minutes because I can't handle the crimes report, now it is the election too.


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