Friday, August 19, 2011

The Loser Pays -- But So Do Many Others

A Facebook friend (who is also an accomplished author) asked for comments for an article she is writing about gambling. She wrote, "Casino gambling really isn't that different from tourism in terms of what they add economically. Where are the productivity gains? Writing on casinos this week. Send thoughts."

Here's what I sent along:

Casino gambling produces an awful lot of hell for an awful lot of families. Put a lonely senior citizen, a housewife desperate to win back her losses, or even just a a fellow whose judgment is impaired by the flashing lights and a few martinis next to a casino's ATM machine, one that not only can suck out bank account dollars but credit card debt, and you've got serious and long-lasting grief for many.

Such tragedies are not all that these places produce -- I fully understand that. And I am familiar with the arguments presenting gambling as just another form of entertainment, tourism, revenue gain, and so on. 

Still, for a full picture of the effect of casino gambling, you've got to include the perspective of the cops, the divorce and bankruptcy lawyers, the pawn shop owners, the homeless shelters and the family members who never put a quarter in the slot machines but who nevertheless will be paying for years the gambling bills accrued by loved ones.