Sunday, May 22, 2005

The High Cost We Pay for Riverboat Gambling

I have grown used to the fact that no opposition to riverboat gambling will be allowed to appear in the news media. The news media has a vested interest in the gambling industry and journalism ceases on subjects in which in the owning corporation has a vested interest. But I was surprised to read a blog in which the blogger and all those making comments took it for granted that what was good for the riverboat casinos was good for the entire community in which the casino was located. The assumption is that the casinos bring jobs and tax base to the community and the state mandated local grants awarded by the casinos is found money. All up-side, no down-side.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The casinos could be bringing money into the community only if some of their customers are people from outside the area who would not be comming into the area and spending money here if the casinos were not here. The studies which have been done show that this is not the case. Those tour buses in the casino parking lots are not coming from far away. Almost all of the casinos customers would be spending their entertainment dollars in the local area if the casinos did not exist. How many locally owned restaurants, race tracks, night clubs, etc. have folded since the casinos came? Those casino jobs are not new jobs for the community, but rather transferred, often from locally owned business to the non-locally owned casino.
How many people have you heard about who were decent law-abiding family people who became gambling addicts and embezzled money after the riverboat casinos came? There were a number of cases in the media the first few years of riverboat gambling. Lately I have seen a number of embezzlement cases reported in the paper that curiously did not report on what the embezzler did with the money. Have the news media decided not to report that the motivation for the embezzlment because that might lessen support for the riverboat casinos?


Connie Barrett said...

Well said!

The Inside Dope said...

Excellent obeservation. Like most of the flimsy justifications for the transfer of public money into private hands, it just doesn't stand up to scrutiny, and the sad fact is as you've noted, that there simply ISN'T any scrutiny, at least not in the local press.

Dave Barrett said...

I just got a telephone call from an elected official here in Rock Island County who wanted to tell me that he agrees with me about legalized riverboat gambling but felt he could not chance putting his thoughts in writing, out of fear that opposing the powers that be would be harmful to his career.
Powerful forces are at work manufacturing public consensus that legalized gambling is good for us.
We live in a democracy. Those who can need to speak out about this issue.