Being brought up as a good squeaky clean fundamentalist/Baptist with my hair combed, I remained a casino virgin until I was in my forties. I was on a speaking gig in Detroit and one of the good Catholic businessmen named Bob took me to lunch at the casino and taught me how to play craps. It was fun and he could afford to gamble. But I learned my lesson. More of that later…
Today The Telegraph informs us here that American casino owners plan to build a Las Vegas-style gambling strip in Spain. Of course a good number of the Europeans are overjoyed because the creation of 180,000 jobs will help bail out their disastrous economy. Its another example (along with Burger King and Pizza Hut in London, Disneyland in Paris and fat pale English youths going trick or treating and to the ‘prom’) of Europe importing the worst of America and ignoring the best.
I guess it will be called ‘El Vegas’ or ‘Euro Vegas’ or some other such vulgarity. What I learned in my trip to the Detroit casino is just how wicked the whole casino industry really is. My friend Bob could afford to gamble because he had the loot and didn’t mind losing it. He said, “You have to remember. This whole business is a professional, and legal way of taking as much of your money as possible as quickly as possible. They’re good at it. Furthermore,” Bob added, “You’re not allowed to cheat, but they do all the time. Everything is stacked in their favor. Every game gives them the edge.” Learning to play craps was fun–especially on Bob’s dime.
However what I noticed was all the lower class people who were there–people who were rangy and poorly dressed; people who couldn’t afford to eat out at Kentucky Fried Chicken, much less gamble. Bob agreed, “Some of these guys are out of work and they’re trying to win money to pay the rent. They lose.” Then I saw the number of old people. These weren’t the sun tanned oldies who wander around the golf links in retirement communities. These were blue collar folks plugging quarter after quarter into the slot machines like zombies.
Bob said, “What the casino owners do is send reps out to all the rest homes and retirement communities. They give the old folks a voucher for two free nights in the hotel and all the meals they want and ten dollars worth of chips. So Fred and Gladys, who haven’t been able to have a vacation for they don’t know how long, turn up on the bus the casino provides and they end up gambling away what little savings they had which was supposed to pay for their nursing home one day.”
The more Bob talked the more disgusted I became. Here are people who are already fabulously and disgustingly rich devising schemes to bilk poor, elderly, unemployed people out of the little bit of cash they have on hand. Their sin is totally pre meditated, planned and well funded.
Once you begin to realize the iniquity of the gambling industry and how it preys on the vulnerable, the poor and the stupid, you start to think again about our whole society. The gambling addiction runs through our culture everywhere. State lotteries do the same thing. Essentially they prey on the poor to provide goodies for the rich. Yes, yes, I know….nobody forces anybody to gamble. They have a choice and all that. They have choice like any addict has choice: in theory. A person or an government that provides gambling to a gambling addict is just like a drug pusher who keeps the junkie hanging for his next hit.
And now we’re exporting all this to Europe, so the All American gangsters and thugs can use their flashy schemes to rake in even more cash. This is why I believe in Hell. I demand justice. Call me judgmental, but people like that must sizzle as far as I’m concerned.