Once again we are reading in the newspaper about a trusted person in our community whom we have just discovered to have been stealing public funds entrusted to them because they had become addicted to gambling on the riverboat casinos. Once again it appears likely that this is someone who would never have committed a crime or broken anyone’s trust in them if we had not brought legalized gambling to this community.
This case and so many similar previous cases of embezzlement show clearly that the supposed benefits of legalized gambling -- the jobs, the tourist dollars and the grants from the casinos to local groups – come at a very high cost indeed. And besides, those benefits are not all they are cracked up to be and a lot less than was promised. The jobs are mostly transfers from businesses that closed because of competition from the casinos. Many of the closed businesses were locally owned with their profits staying here. The casinos are not locally owned and their profits leave the area. The tourists coming to the casinos do not come from very far away and they mostly do not patronize other businesses while they are here.
The next time you read a newspaper story or see a television news story talking about the jobs the casinos have brought or the grants awarded without mentioning the high cost we pay for legalized gambling in ruined lives and broken trust, as those stories never do, I suggest you do what I have been doing. Supply the missing balance to the story by shouting at the top of your lungs “BUT AT WHAT COST?”
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