Legalized Gambling

.. in America. In 1980 Tunica, Mississippi was known as “America’s Ethiopia.” Around 53% of the population lived in poverty. Everyone thought the answer to the community’s problems would be to build a casino This did make new jobs for some people, but the price of land increased 10 times more. Property taxes increased dramatically as the property values increased.23 The only people who were reaping the benefits of the casino were the rich owners and the rich real estate developers. Lotteries also end up hurting the people who need help most.

High school drop-outs and people with incomes under $20,000 make up the largest percentage of lottery players.24 In lotteries nationwide, the poor spend $572 per year on lottery tickets, while receiving only $80 in services from increased tax revenues. Meanwhile, wealthier people spend $26 per year on lottery tickets, while receiving as much or more than that in local aid. Even though state lotteries are supposed fundraisers to help people who need help, they generally hurt the poor and while helping the more fortunate. Local casinos always spell disaster for nearby restaurants. In Atlantic City, from 1977-1987, 101 out of 243 restaurants closed with the arrival of casinos.

These nearby casinos offer free food to draw customers in. This very expensive proposition from the owners can be written off of their annual income tax. In 1991 alone, 234 million dollars were written off casino’s taxes.25 Why should the consumer pay for food when he can get it free at the casino? Gambling also spurs a huge increase in crime. According to United States Attorney General Kelley, Between 1977, when the first casino opened in Atlantic City, and 1986, just nine years later, the incidence of larceny per capita increased by four hundred and sixty- seven percent. Incidence of all crime combined increased by 138%- and this figure includes all categories of violent crime, including rape and robbery. Since Illinois legalized riverboat gambling, funding for state police has increased 50%, or 100 million dollars per year.26 Charles Cozic said, “The best estimates of increased costs to Illinois’s criminal justice system[from gambling] appear to range between 1.03-1.18 billion dollars.” This amount of money is much more than the state has received from the casinos.

A high percentage of these problems stem from pathological/compulsive gamblers, who in 1990 cost the city of Chicago approximately $52,000 per year per gambler. They also cost the state of Maryland alone 1.5 billion dollars in lost work, productivity, stolen or embezzled monies, and state taxes not paid.27 The compulsive gambler is the biggest problem that gambling produces. Most compulsive gamblers live unhappy and frightened lives.28 They almost always lose more than they can win and since they are stubborn and childish, they continue to chase the lost money in a bitter, angry, driven mood.29 Also, they are always on the way down, losing more and more money, and going deeper and deeper in debt to banks, finance companies, relatives, and friends.30 Compulsive gamblers lose their tempers frequently, often striking anyone at any time.31 They have been known to have no limits in obtaining money. Murder, stealing, embezzling, conning, and even resorting to prostitution or putting their wives into prostitution have been known ways of getting money to pay off gambling debts.32 People become compulsive gamblers through peer pressure and social pressure. Most are very competitive, athletic, have above average intelligence, and are motivated to achieve.33 Many gamble for a death instinct, a need to lose, a wish to repeat a big win, identification, and a desire for action or excitement.34 Out of the three million compulsive gamblers in America, 65% are men.35 The most common occupation for a compulsive gambler is an attorney, while accountants, bankers, stock brokers, and sports figures have a higher than average percentage of compulsive gamblers.36 Some compulsive gamblers of today include Walter Mathau, Omar Shariff, and Larry King.

These troubled people have been and will be around as long as gambling is available. Even over 100 years ago, big name compulsive gamblers, such as W.H. Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan lost millions of dollars gambling.37 Institutions, such as the 800 Gambler Anonymous’s and 300 Gam-Anon’s, have been made to help these troubled individuals, but most need professional help, which they can not afford.38 Unfortunately, teen-age gambling also has increased dramatically, especially in cities with legalized gambling. According to Fred Franco Jr., a prosecutor in New Jersey, “gambling is the addiction of the ’90’s.”39 These teen gamblers get an adrenaline rush when gambling, just like when taking drugs. Approximately 500 million to one billion dollars are gambled each year by underage gamblers.40 Even worse, the estimated 1.3 million teen gamblers, 7% of which are under the age of 18, are twice as likely to become compulsive gamblers.41 Another source determined that one million teenagers are compulsive gamblers out of the eight million compulsive gamblers in the country.42 These numbers vary so much because few institutions have researched this very major problem. These young compulsive gamblers have the same problems as their older counterparts. Approximately 13% commit crimes to pay for their habit.43 They put gambling above school, friends, and their growing debt.44 A poll at a local Las Vegas high school showed that 400 out of 768(52%) students had gambled illegally.

Other research showed 155,000 underage gamblers were caught trying to get into Atlantic City casinos last year.45 Teen gambling is rapidly growing for many reasons. First, few seem to care about or address the issue. Second, every new casino built on the Las Vegas strip has become family oriented. The MGM Grand, Luxor, and Treasure Island, built in the last five years, and Circus Circus and Excalibur, built a few years before, all have a Disney-like environment geared towards kids. Children have to walk through casinos to get to their hotel rooms, theme parks and video game arcades.46 Third, teenage gamblers hardly ever suffer any type of severe penalty when caught trying to sneak into a casino or buy lotto tickets, so they just go to the next casino or next drug store.

Finally, most young adults do not get warned about the wrong of gambling. Parents and schools drill into their kids heads not to have sex, do drugs, or drink alcohol, but hardly ever even say a word against gambling. These teens are headed towards more and more problems as they get older. Because of this huge involvement among teens, gambling had an even worse effect on society this time through the cycle. Through the years, all forms of gambling have caused major problems and should not be condoned by government. Gambling has gone in and out of popularity through cycles where owners have gone from low life “rowdies” to organized crime heads, and now big money corporation men.

America is in a very dangerous cycle because of the clean, corporate style gambling operations run today, which don’t seem to have any fraud or corruption. Also, many forms of legalized gambling have become more and more accessible. Worst, as the number of compulsive gamblers have grown, the number of teenage gamblers have dramatically grown, leaving poor futures for them. Government needs to recognize the problems gambling has always produced, along with the new problems of today, and banish gambling altogether. ENDNOTES 1Stuart Winston, Nation of Gamblers (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Prentice Hall, 1984) p.

5. 2Bertha Davis, Gambling in America: A Growth Industry (U.S.A., Impact Books, 1992) p. 12. 3Winston, p. 5.

4Rufus King, Gambling and Organized Crime (Washington, D.C., Public Affairs Press, 1969), p. 11. 5Oscar Handlin, This Was America (New York, New York, Harper and Row Publishers, 1964), pp. 326-331 6Bertha Davis, p. 19 7Bertha Davis, pp.

10-20. 8Rufus King, pp. 121-122. 9Rufus King, pp. 8, 123. 10Betha Davis, p. 10.

11Bertha Davis, pp. 13-14. 12Bertha Davis, p. 27. 13James Popkin, “America’s Gambling Craze,” U.S. News and World Report, March 14 (1994), p.

1. 14Ronald Clayton, “Nation Raising a Generation of Gamblers,” U.S.A. Today, April 5, 1995, p. 3. 15Charles Cozic, Gambling (San Diego, California, Greenhaven Press, 1995), p.

80. 16Betsy Reed, “America’s New Addiction: How the Gambling Industry is Seducing the States,” Dollars and Sense, July/August (1994), p. 1. 17Bertha Davis, p. 24. 18Ronald Clayton, p.

2. 19Bertha Davis, p. 11. 20James Popkin, pp. 5-6.

21James Popkin, p. 5 22James Popkin, p. 4-5. 23James Popkin, p. 6, Charles Cozic, p.

159. 24Charles Cozic, p. 26. 25Betsy Reed, p. 2.

26Charles Cozic, p. 137. 27Charles Cozic, p. 67. 28Bertha Davis, p. 72.

29Sirgay Sanger, “The Compulsive Gambler: A Bet Guaranteed To Lose,” U.S.A. Today Magazine, January (1990), p. 2. 30Stuart Winston, p. 8. 31Charles Cozic, p.

65. 32Stuart Winston, p. 9. 33Charles Cozic, p. 67. 34Sirgay Sander, p.

2 35Bertha Davis, p. 78. 36Bertha Davis, p. 78. 37Charles Winston, pp. 82-85.

38Charles Cozic, p. 67 39Ronald Clayton, p. 2. 40Ronald Clayton, p. 1. 41Ronald Clayton, p.2. 42Charles Corzic, p.

26. 43Lynn Waddell, “Teenage Gambling,” Las Vegas Sun, (Las Vegas), February 27, 1994, p. 4. 44Ronald Clayton, p. 1. 45Ronald Clayton, p.


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