Thursday, October 18, 2007

10-18-07: Gambling America

I heard another great piece on On Point with Tom Ashbrook yesterday. This time the topic was gambling in America. It covered state lotteries, casinos, and the overall attitude of gambling in society. I found it fascinating.

I'm not a big gambler, at all. I seldom, if ever, gamble, on anything. I wouldn't say it's necessarily a religious issue, though I do think it is a sin to throw your money away aimlessly. To me it’s simple numbers. Why should I waste my money? The odds are against me. I’m not that good at the games I play. I don’t find it fun to see my hard-earned money go to waste. So why should I waste my time losing money? I don’t even like buying in to a $2 poker game. Guys at school gambled all the time, but I never partook in anything that dealt with real money. I draw the line there. Once in a while I got involved in a stupid wager that was some physical task that the other person had to do (we cleaned our own house every day), but that was just good fun. I think spending my time on something worthwhile is great.

One of the callers on the program lives right near Foxwoods, which is the largest casino in the world, and happens to be located in Ledyard, CT. He spoke against the casino the same way one of my Fraternity Brothers, Brian, who lives in the town of Ledyard, spoke. It is destroying the town. Whatever good the casino says it does for the state or the town (it creates jobs “for locals”), it has done far more that has hurt the town. People don’t go to Ledyard to buy something at the local stores. They drive through to go to Foxwoods, which is located on the Indian reservation next to the town. It’s not helping the town’s economy.

The other issue that Brian brought up was the poor influence of American Indian children in Ledyard’s schools. If they get in trouble, they cannot be disciplined, because they run back to the reservation. Why should they be schooled in town? If they don’t live there, why should they be given the privilege? If they can’t be controlled, it’s simply not fair to the other students, and the town. It is a local issue, and I’m not saying all of the American Indian students are misbehaving. But… if the casino is allowed to operate because it is on Indian land, shouldn’t it be expected that they have their own schools? The bottom line is that the promised benefits to local communities are often never realized.I’m not knocking American Indians. I know a few of them, and I think that whatever problems people have with them are usually specific problems with individual tribes, and even within those, it’s a minority.

The real issue is how gambling has become so accepted, and rampant, in American culture. If you don’t gamble, you’re the minority. Whether it’s scratch tickets, state lottery tickets, online gaming, trips to Foxwoods (I went once and don’t have even a remote desire to go back), or even a poker game at your buddy’s house, gambling is everywhere. It’s even on ESPN. That’s sad. It’s come to a point where people enjoy watching other people gamble on television. Do yourself a favor: go for a walk, or find a buddy and play catch. Life is too short to watch poker on TV.

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