An addict once told me that addiction means “never getting enough of what you no longer want.” Most addicts detest their addiction and rue the day they came to first experience the fatal attraction that soon controlled their lives. Drug addicts wish they’d never smoked that first seemingly harmless joint. Others lament tasting even that first drink, lighting that first cigarette or strolling curiously into that first casino.
I was disturbed by the wrenching story of a young mother of three, who became so despondent about her addition that she committed suicide. Her addiction was played out deep within the windowless walls of a casino. Gambling, as much as drug and alcohol addictions, exacts a horrific toll on our personal and collective mental health and emotional well being. But for those myopes who advocate gambling as a means of enhancing our social coffers, regardless of the human cost, I would like to add to their reasoning by suggesting some other benefits of gambling.
1. Wonderful for developing sibling attachment. While a parent spins away valuable hours in the casino, Junior gets better acquainted with his brother while they wait out in the car. They grow up resourceful, learning to entertain themselves rather than becoming spoiled by having disposable income wasted on them with useless vacations, family activities, clothing and food. From their parents they also develop the “get something for nothing” mentality. One day they may even become champion lotto players.
2. Helps drug addicts and alcoholics feel less stigmatized as members of AA or NA. Now the community can also have GA. Even if 80% of those registered in Gamblers Anonymous have admitted to resorting to criminal activities in order to support their habit, hey, this is great training for our police cadets.
3. Keeps real estate prices down. The ABC of gambling has long been described as Addiction, Bankruptcies and Crime. With all those foreclosures and quick sales, there are bound to be some bargains out there.
4. Entertainment value. What could be more fun or uplifting than sitting in front of a shiny machine staring for hours at pictures of assorted fruit spinning about? Reach up like a zombie and pay to do it again, and again and again and how nice, no thought is developed… er… required. Now that’s entertainment!
5. The presence of a casino allows the locals to sleep longer and get more rest. How? Casinos cause local businesses to go belly up. The casino soaks up money that may have otherwise been spent on a car, dinner, kids, stuff etc. The suffering businesses lay off employees who, no longer having to work, can now sleep in. Exceptions would include pawnbrokers, repo men and police.
6. Produces a thriving community of doctors, counselors and pharmaceutical companies. The good folks at Prozac tell us gambling is good for business.
7. Keeps money in the hands of politicians rather than in the hands of crooks. When wise and concerned government types attempt to revitalize gambling in a town, those pesky do-gooders trying to inject their common sense into the issue should just forget about the community and keep to themselves. Politicians have proven time and again that they have excellent foresight. The money the government skims off gambling can be put to good use hiring more police or enhancing the social programs to support the homeless, poor, and… oh wait… those are consequences of gambling. Forget it.
As Christmas approaches I am reminded of the classic film It’s A Wonderful Life. I think of Jimmy Stewart stumbling through a town that has changed from being a warm, inviting, pleasant community to a dank, miserable, unkind place to live. A town of casinos, pawn shops and strip joints. A nasty soulless town.
Can you think of any worthwhile reasons why the children of any community should be raised in such a town? I’ll bet you can’t… 10 bucks.