Symposium 2015: Should federal anti-gaming legislation be scrapped?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-If you’ve seen the “Godfather” films, you got a taste of what Vegas and Atlantic City life was like when the Mafia owned a large part of the casino and other gaming business.  While the rubes through the door didn’t get fleeced any more thoroughly than they do today, the behind-the-scenes goings-on were bloody, ruthless and heavy-handed.

They’re less bloody today.

The early gaming prohibitions were enacted partly in a failed effort to break the Mob, and partly out of that same misguided sense of government-imposed morality that gives us silliness like Blue Laws and bringing entire freeways to a halt for funeral processions.  As anyone who’s been in the back room at their neighborhood bar or found that “secret” website where your Bitcoins will get you all the poker and blackjack you can play will tell you, the laws haven’t worked.  Just as with Prohibition, when the government tries to legislate morality, it fails.

What’s the other big no-no that we’ve tried to legislate out of existence … oh, right! Drugs!  How’s that whole “War on Drugs” thing working out?  If you’re in any major city, odds are you’re within five miles of any illegal drug you could ever want.  While I’m not for a moment suggesting we take all the brakes off and allow heroin to be sold next to the Sudafed at Walgreens, some of the early lessons from Colorado and Washington, where society has resolutely failed to collapse and crime rates have in fact gone DOWN since pot was legalized, bear noting.

Gambling is a drug.  Those who get hooked on it while do anything to get their fix, and no amount of legislation is going to stop them.  Far better to legalize it, bring it out in the open and at least let the government get its share of the available tax money.  The back room at Uncle Funky’s Hooch Palace is going to be a lot less appealing once Harrah’s has a neon-drenched gambling palace set up a couple of miles away, generating tax dollars and employing the locals.

Cartwright—My right honorable friend here just said it.  Legalize it and let government at the local, state, and federal levels tax it.  We can’t legislate morality, and I find it quite hypocritical that many states allow people to buy lottery tickets but they don’t allow casinos.  Isn’t the lottery considered gambling?  Isn’t the lottery a game of chance?  Let’s legalize gambling and let the casino operators build casinos where they see fit and where it’s economically feasible for them.  This is good business, and it’s good for communities.  Each casino in Las Vegas averages over 2,000 employees each.  I know there are plenty of communities throughout the United States that would love to have someone come in and create a couple thousand jobs.

Do you know what an economic boost a casino is for a community?  It costs tens of millions of dollars to build a casino.  When you build one, you give a boost to local construction companies.  The casino creates thousands of jobs.  Those employees pay taxes.  The casino pays millions in taxes at all levels.  The people working spend their money.  You have a boost in people coming to the area.  The economic benefits go on and on.  All told, a casino has tens of millions of dollars in local economic impact.

Let’s tell the religious zealots to get the hell out of the way of economic progress.  If they don’t like the casino, they don’t have to go to it, and they can stay at home and pray for those sinners who are going to gamble and while they’re at it they can pray for those sinners who drink and smoke and have sex and so on and so on.  These same people say there’s a high cost to society.  Well, let them quantify that.  We can put together an economic study that shows how much the area benefits from the construction of a casino.  The naysayers can’t quantify the “social cost” of gambling.  This is just a smokescreen for their religious and moral objections to gaming.

Gambling is how we create tens of thousands of good jobs throughout the country and give a boost to some communities that could really use it.  Let’s get with the times and let the casino companies build where they want to build.

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