City Journal Spring 2014

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Spring 2014
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Steven Malanga
The State Gambling Addiction « Back to Story

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Things will only get worse for gamblers as taxation on gambling increases. Nevada taxes at 7%, New Jersey at 7% plus 1.5% that used to have to go to infrastructure investments, but now can be used on casino improvements, all the way up to the planned 67% tax rate in Maryland. If casinos expect to make their normal profits, the games have to get worse for the players. This explains the reliance of newer casinos on slots, and the rule changes that make relatively equal games, like blackjack and craps. have a higher negative expectation.
Government addiction to gambling revenue may lead to new solutions to help the healthcare industry in cost management. I share this cartoon link for further commentary: http://nightlycartoon.tumblr.com/image/49973059015 (a non-commercial link to my sketchbook of nightly cartoons).
Wow. Reading about the ills that gambling comes with in such a complete article is a true eyeopener for me. It has always felt just sad to me to see addicts- cigarette smokers with little kids trapped in their cars or drunks being sentenced to a year or 2 in jail for a repeat DUI collision that has ruined his victims lives or the huge person turning into the doughnut shop with a drive-thru so they can avoid a waddle inside for their fix- and I believe in personal responsibility, but man, do I wish these folks would act right and live healthier lives.
The only reason gambling has social costs is because of the vigorish, the expected loss on gambles. If the gambles were fair bets there would be no harm. Anything that increases competition in gambling and that down the vigorish is a good thing, given that like other addictions we are never going to be able to abolish it.
"But this approach is utterly misguided, since gambling has often disappointed as a fiscal tool and as an economic-development strategy."
To say the least. But it provides lots of cushy job for relatives, lots of contracted services for more relatives' companies, etc.
OTB provides pennies toward the "schools", but millions upon millions in payroll for union state employees and other various hangers'on, not to mention perks, early retirement, and all the rest of the slush which floats around these semi-autonomous corporations.
Wow, to make the case that gambling addiction somehow costs society more than the tax revenue casinos produce, and is less costly to society than alcoholism is inane. (I would ask Mr. Malanga how many people are killed and seriously injured by gambling addicts versus drunk drivers [even his carefully manipulated stats indicate no increase in murder rates].) And to blame Atlantic City's continuing decline on gambling, and not the fact that almost all of its political leaders have been convicted is really silly. And since when has City Journal totally abandoned the concept of personal responsibility?
I was at a drug/alcohol rehab which had one patient who was there primarly for gambling (though also alcohol). He had worked in business to business sales. (Obviously there is not a way I could have verified this story without his tax returns and bank statements). He made $150,000 a year (gross). His wife also had a steady good income. What started as entertaining clients became him gambling by himself. He emptied his savings and maxed out his credit cards. He took as much as possible out of his 401k, under fraudulent terms. His wife did not know how much he had spent, and did not secure his two daughters college funds with over $100,000 in them. By the time she found out 80,000 was gone. He owed loan sharks 50,000 dollars and they sold their home to pay them. She divorced him and his daughters no longer spoke to him. He failed a suicide attempt, a gunshot missed the spine to his heart, but lost most of his ability to use his limbs. A gambling addiction, in many ways, is far worse than a drug or alcohol addiction. He ended up losing everything (plus 400,000 dollars) to gambling. A severe case, but not unusual enough.
Sure, everyone loves to gamble . . . if they win. But, the person sitting next to you in church, the man in line at the grocery store, or one of your co-workers; any one of these could be involved with a gambling problem. Imagine your grandmother committing a crime to support her gambling addiction. I am a recovering alcoholic, gambler, and have recovered from other addictive behaviors. I published a book, Gripped by Gambling, where the readers can follow the destructive path of the compulsive gambler, a prison sentence, and then on to the recovery road.

I recently published a second book, Switching Addictions, describing additional issues that confront the recovering addict. If a person who has an addictive personality, doesn’t admit to at least two addictions, he’s not being honest. Until the underlying issues have been resolved, the person will continue to switch addictions. These are two books you might consider adding to your library. I also publish a free online newsletter, Women Helping Women, which has been on-line for more than twelve years and is read by hundreds of women (and men) from around the world. (www.femalegamblers.info). I have been interviewed many times, and appeared on the 60 Minutes show in January 2011, which was moderated by Leslie Stahl.

Sincerely,

Marilyn Lancelot

Malanga has hit the nail on the head. The main beneficiaris of all this gambling expansion are the gambling trade and the bought-off politicians.
My father's father secretly blew at the track all the savings that my war bride mother sent to him from her native Belgium, while she waited for my father, United States Army, to accumulate enough points to return home from the ETO. When they finally got to Brooklyn, the down payment for their home was non-existent, and they had to live in the relatively tiny family apartment. The consequences were so terrible that, should my father meet his father in the next life, he intends to confront him on this matter.

Gambling is evil, and anyone or any entity associated with it is just as evil.
Sure, everyone loves to gamble . . . if they win. But, the person sitting next to you in church, the man in line at the grocery store, or one of your co-workers; any one of these could be involved with a gambling problem. Imagine your grandmother committing a crime to support her gambling addiction. I am a recovering alcoholic, gambler, and have recovered from other addictive behaviors. I published a book, Gripped by Gambling, where the readers can follow the destructive path of the compulsive gambler, a prison sentence, and then on to the recovery road.

I recently published a second book, Switching Addictions, describing additional issues that confront the recovering addict. If a person who has an addictive personality, doesn’t admit to at least two addictions, he’s not being honest. Until the underlying issues have been resolved, the person will continue to switch addictions. These are two books you might consider adding to your library. I also publish a free online newsletter, Women Helping Women, which has been on-line for more than twelve years and is read by hundreds of women (and men) from around the world. (www.femalegamblers.info). I have been interviewed many times, and appeared on the 60 Minutes show in January 2011, which was moderated by Leslie Stahl.

Sincerely,

Marilyn Lancelot
What I find amazing is that NY State could raise much needed revenue by allowing fracking for natural gas. Instead it bans drilling and encourages the really harmful to people, gambling.

Fracking is harmful to the environment & people but gambling is not.

WHAT A JOKE!!
"Governor Chris Christie noted in a 2010 report that, after nearly 35 years of legal gambling, Atlantic City suffered from the public perception that it was “unclean and unsafe” and had never been able to give rise to a meetings-and-conventions business."

The reason that Atlantic City suffers from the public perception that it is 'unclean and unsafe' is because Atlantic City is unclean and unsafe.

Ask any New Jersey resident: Atlantic City is Newark with a boardwalk.
"Governor Chris Christie noted in a 2010 report that, after nearly 35 years of legal gambling, Atlantic City suffered from the public perception that it was “unclean and unsafe” and had never been able to give rise to a meetings-and-conventions business."

The reason that Atlantic City suffers from the public perception that it is 'unclean and unsafe' is because Atlantic City is unclean and unsafe.

Ask any New Jersey resident: Atlantic City is Newark with a boardwalk.
I hate gambling. The fact that government would one day be banning as illegal an activity then next making a profit on it is disgusting enough. But gambling? I'd ask anyone who is in favor of legal gambling whether they know someone with a gambling problem. I've known people addicted to drugs,others with severe alcohol problems, even weight problems, but these pale in comparison next to those few I've known with a gambling addiction.

It is not as common as drug or alcohol addiction but gambling is even more destructive. This gives you some idea: some years back I represented a gas station owner near a casino. He said that gamblers were constantly coming to his place trying to sell their cars after gambling unsuccessfully. Just imagine - someone who has lost everything now in desperation sells the vehicle they used to get to the casino in an attempt - a losing attempt of course - to make back the money they lost.

That's right, the House always wins - check out the stats, there is no way for them to lose. It's a disgusting activity, and the fact that government is trying to use it to squeeze even more from the people it purports to govern says a whole lot about government, and the people who elect the politicians. It's also a crooked activity - it should be no surprise that it has failed miserably as a redevelopment tool.

And yes, it hurts the poor overwhelmingly. You won't find lotto machines in the high end part of town, but you will see the lines around the block in the poorer neighborhoods. Bet you won't find any studies about this, since the government is way too shrewd to either pay for or allow it.

As for Atlantic City - it was an awful place before gambling and it is the same now. Maybe - MAYBE it could have been developed into something nice. But now, locked into massive (and failing) casino hotels it is stuck with being a gambling resort. As for the benefits of casino's, there hasn't been any - not for Atlantic City and certainly not for New Jersey.
Well researched article but this author indicts state governments with the trite sin of bad parenting. Malanga casts the state as the omnipresent and irresponsible Mommy who allows, even encourages, her children to smoke and drink at the age of 7. But, didn’t the gambling exist prior to widespread legalization – and weren’t we constantly regaled with lurid tales of the Mob controlling illegal gambling along with gambling’s evil siblings, namely loan sharking and political corruption? Blaming the state for the ills brought on by legal gambling seems a trifle unfair when the only alternative is a return to colorful characters like bookies and numbers runners.

For years, Detroit, Michigan refused to consider legal gambling in the form of casinos, but no longer. What turned the tide was the thriving casinos of Windsor, Canada just across the river. The city’s Protestant ministers, who had long opposed legal gambling for precisely the social ills Malanga lists in relation to legalized gambling, were forced to witness the nightly exodus of Detroit’s gamblers into Canada’s humble gaming palaces. Attitudes changed and the reasoning became why allow Canada to benefit from Detroiters’ vices; why not keep the money and the related tax revenues on Detroit’s side of the border.

Malanga is correct that it irks every red blooded politician to passively watch constituents journeying to other states when their wagering money rightly belongs in their home districts. But timing is everything with “sin taxes” and the general public must not oppose, perhaps must even demand a shift in attitudes before existing laws can actually change. Smoking and drinking are long term government sanctioned addictions, marijuana is making steady inroads toward state sponsored legitimacy while the so-called hard drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, remain strictly illegal. The chance of being killed on the highway by someone with an alcohol addiction is regrettable but fully accepted within our contemporary mindset - but being mugged on the street by a crack addict is a good reason to keep hard drugs illegal. Go figure what that logic says about the American voter and sin taxes.
A great article. It's inherently immoral for the state to be encouraging citizens to spend their money on lottery tickets. As the article points out, it's a tax, really, that extracts money from those who are least able to part it with. But, what they're taxing is ignorance, since it attracts only those who are misguided enough not to see it for what it is. The state is supposed to be acting to benefit its citizens, but the lottery puts it in the position of actively seducing people into hurting themselves.
As Dostoyevsky said, without God, anything (evil) is possible. Those who reject the Christian Republic our Founders established for gambling and countless other vices were promised certain ruin by our Founders and they've been proven right, no matter the tut-tutting of fools who ironically self-righteously condemn "puritanical" morals without having a clue as to what puritans actually practiced, some of the most joyful people ever, but unknown to the historically illiterate lottery supporters who blindly do what they're told.
Wait until the States start accepting online bets and offer online poker. Then you'll see some bigger issues with adiction.
How much social security money is lost due to betting by senior citizens?
Steve: I'm a compulsive gambler, a member of GA, and haven't placed a bet on anything for over 24 years. Your article here is among the best I've ever read. It is filled with truth, and generally symptomatic of the moral breakdown that afflicts many areas of our country and its culture. Bravo. You are to be highly commended on all counts.