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Gambling continues to plaque our society and my use of a word like "plague" gives away my perspective. Gambling is not a good thing in any way, shape, or form. It does not produce; it only takes. It does not build up; it tears down. Gambling is presented as "gaming," yet it's impact upon long-term gamblers, many who become "problem gamblers," is anything but fun and games. 

Ironically, no one knows this better than serious gamblers who will tell you, as they have me, "No one wins at gambling." In fact, likely the greatest cynics about gambling are those who operate casinos in places like Las Vegas. Their comments are devastating about the people they see come and go, people who lose not only their money but often their self-respect. This is true even if the people doing the losing are "Whales," the wealthy big fish the casinos like to hook because they lose so much and lose often.

Gambling is a time bomb in a pretty package. It may tick slowly for a given person, but it does tick and it will someday go off.

All this makes it especially perplexing to hear about Christians gambling or to hear some of them defend the practice as just so much harmless entertainment. With them I must respectfully disagree.  Gambling is a no-win proposition that undermines first a bank account, then social and/or professional relationships, then a life. And there is much in Scripture that speaks if not "about" gambling than certianly "to" gambling.

Here's more on the subject: 

 

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Local communities continue to grab for the brass ring, their pot of gold at the end of a rainbow called casino gambling. Problem is, when they get there the pot of gold is either empty or being taken elsewhere. Gambling rarely if ever delivers the economic wellbeing communities expect.

Meanwhile gambling stimulates or at least makes more likely a long list of individual and social pathologies. These not-so-good spin-offs ("negative externalities," the economists call them) of gambling are rarely reported: higher rates of suicide and divorce, skyrocketing incidences of bankruptcy, job absenteeism, petty crime, and more. If these sorts of social indicators associated with gambling are not often reported, the costs incurred because of them in health care and criminal justice are even less often reported. If they were, if an accurate cost/benefit analysis could be honestly developed, it would most often demonstrate that casinos in the long run do not benefit local communities, a few constructions jobs in the beginning and a few card dealer jobs ongoing notwithstanding.

Here's more on community casinos:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

Gambling continues to grow, though it slowed a bit during the last recession. More women are gambling, and some say they like slot machines because it's one of the few things they can do where they don't have to deal with men. 

But the growth of gambling is not good news. It's not an answer to our economic problems, and it is not a harmless game. Gambling is still threatening, economically for sure, socially or personally too. Gambling does not produce anything and contributes nothing of redeeming social value to our culture. And there's no such thing as luck.

Here are a few more thoughts on what's happening with gambling, a bad bet no matter how you cut the deck:

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

A few years ago I wrote a book on gambling--not pro but con. I'm against gambling in all its forms. I thought then and still think now that gambling is an ingenious way to bilk people out of their money. Just design a game in which people give you money to play. There you have it. Pay to play and pay you do if you gamble very much. 

My book is entitled "Gambling: Don't Bet On It" and it's still available in print in a revised edition. I wrote the book mostly in 1996 just before the Internet became publicly available. By the time I revised the book in 2005 I had to add an entire chapter on Internet Gambling. Such is our dubious progress.

Here're a few more thoughts on this most postmodern, i.e., irrational, pursuit:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

The State of Michigan is home to 3 casinos in Detroit owned by corporate interests and 22 tribal-owned casinos. You’d think this would be enough.

But no. Now two competing groups are working to put casino-approval measures on the fall ballot that, if passed, would permit one gambling proponent to add 8 new casinos and the other to add 7 new casinos.

You heard that right. In a state with 25 casinos these groups think we need 7-8 more.

The groups are euphemistically named Citizens for More Michigan Jobs and Michigan Is Yours. Makes you want to sprint to the polling booth doesn’t it? Pro-gambling groups never name themselves More Casinos For More Debt or Gamble Till Your Money’s Gone. No, they’re about “more jobs.” Sure they are.

And the same old tired arguments are being trotted out in support of more casinos, e.g., that these establishments will be taxed at high levels and the money will go for—public schools, police and fire services, townships, road repair, and my favorite, gambling-addiction prevention programs. (The best gambling-addiction prevention program is not to gamble.)

In other words, casino proponents argue that new casinos will provide more money for a host of social services people like, want, or need. Makes political sense: who’s against schools?

But the problem is, this is a bait and switch. Sure, this tax revenue may be earmarked for education and such, but it doesn’t mean education and such gets more money, which is what the public thinks. It means that these funds will go for education and such and then the Legislature will redirect elsewhere tax revenues that would have gone to education and such. In the end, education and such doesn’t necessarily, in fact usually does not at all, end up with more funds. They just end up with other funds, and the public is duped into a new “painless” (for politicians) tax.

Casinos don’t produce anything. They don’t add to the local economy in any way. In fact, casinos drain money from legitimate businesses in the local economy. And, while you cannot make a good case that gambling causes negative social and economic pathologies, you certainly can make a credible case that gambling is correlated with negative social and economic pathologies. These developments—e.g., debt and bankruptcy, job absenteeism, suicide, divorce, theft, health issues—cost local economies. The pubic ends up paying more in increases in health care premiums and increases in criminal justice costs.

It’s said, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” Casinos offer fools gold to attract fools. Michigan doesn’t need more of either one. Gambling is a bad bet; don't bet on it.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

People are going gaga this week over the Mega Millions lottery jackpot passing $500 million. Millions of people are buying millions of dollars of tickets, which of course drives up the jackpot farther. Too bad this is all a celebration in irrationality.

You’ve a better chance of getting two holes-in-one in one round of golf, a near impossibility, than of winning the jackpot.

You’ve a better chance of being eaten by sharks in Ohio than of winning the lottery.

I call it a celebration of irrationality because people suspend reason in order to participate. Nothing about lotteries make sense; yet millions still buy tickets.

You have no ability to influence the outcome. You put your money in the pot and make a vain wish. The odds are all against you; except for a few token winners, only the lottery owners –the “House”—(state governments) win big. Think about it. If Mega Millions is giving away a huge chunk of $500M as a prize, think how much MM had to take in to make this happen.

A lot of people have to lose for one person to win, which is one reason I wrote my own book on the subject a few years back.

Many, and I do mean many, though the evidence is anecdotal rather than empirical, lottery winners later face social, personal, and financial problems, even bankruptcies. Why? People don’t know how to handle a lot of money. People you’ve forgotten come and beg you for money. Winners spend like there’s no tomorrow, but there is a tomorrow. Some winners have said winning the lottery was the worst thing that ever happened to them. Makes you think, or it should.

I tell people, “If you have to gamble (and I’m not for it), than at least don’t gamble in the lotteries. They’re the worst odds out there. Go gamble in a casino where you have at least a little (though not much) better odds of winning something.”

Lotteries are a state legislator’s dream—they’re a way to tax those least able to afford it without calling the revenue source a tax. What’s better, it’s a so-called “voluntary tax.” People participate, which is to say they give their money to the government, of their own free will. From a legislator’s perspective, what’s not to like? But who loses? The Public. You do.

Lotteries, even Mega Million lotteries with enormous jackpots, are ultimately a losing proposition. They’re bad politics and bad economics. Certainly, they’re a bad bet.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.