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Casinos Don’t Smell Right

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The vote on casinos here in Sedgwick County, Kansas is fast approaching, and my sense is that for many there remain more questions than answers. For every statistical survey decrying the evils of gambling, there is a case study from some medium-sized Midwest town proclaiming its virtue.

So who is right? Who can you trust? More important, how do you determine the truth by the first Tuesday in August?

So I sat down to determine if I could come to any conclusions on my own. No studies, bent editorials or researched white papers — just me, a simple mind and some good old common sense. In the end, I employed the foolproof formula my grandpa always used — the smell test.

It occurs to me the tipping point for the value of casinos as a justifiable state sanctioned revenue generator lies in the nature of the mechanism of the transfer of private assets to public funds.

With casinos, the method of the transfer of money is risk. Whether it is a roll of the dice or crank of a lever, it involves subjecting personal wealth to a game of chance.

It is hard to dispute that casino gambling is a bad risk for the gambler. Sure, there may be a few who consistently win more money then they lose. But that is the exception. The fact that casinos are a viable money maker for the owner confirms the truth that more money is lost by gamblers than won.

But so what? What people do with their money whether by sport or investment is their business. I agree, with one exception. When the private assets of an individual are transferred to the public revenue of the state through government legislated and owned casinos, the merit of gambling as an acceptable risk becomes a community issue.

A virtuous nation cannot tolerate a state owned revenue raising program that operates on the premise of encouraging its citizens to take bad risks. In other words, when the mechanism providing the public benefit is a private loss, the process becomes ignoble. Gambling further twists the excellence of capitalism by providing the greatest reward to those taking no risk (the non-gambling public) while penalizing the individual gambler who takes the biggest risk.

Our country was built upon the strong and industrious backs of men and women who worked hard for every dollar they earned. When risk was required, it was measured by the calculations of supply and demand, not the roll of a marble on a roulette table. And when the legislature called for a percentage of those private funds to be transferred to the state for public benefit, it did so in a way that did not knowingly create pathological addiction, personal bankruptcy and broken families.

In the end, state endorsed and owned casinos violate the compact of trust between the government and the governed. Worse yet, they run contrary to the hard work and smart choices that are woven into the fabric of our American heritage.

And as my grandpa would probably say, “that just don’t smell right.”

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About Jeffrey L. Syrios

  • I wonder if people are having trouble responding to this article because of the dreaded banned word “ca$inos”. See, there are ways around it.


  • Dr Dreadful

    I think Las Vegas, with its Mob reputation, has given big, loudly-carpeted buildings filled with machines that go jingle and young ladies with lots of feathers and no shirts on a bad name. (See, that’s another way around it, albeit not the most efficient one!)

    The reason I think this is because even in Britain, where gambling is a way of life and not the road to Gomorrah as it is often portrayed over here, big, loudly-carpeted buildings filled with machines that go jingle and young ladies with lots of feathers and no shirts on are regarded with sharp suspicion and are stringently regulated.


  • I have to admit that I can’t stand Vegas and find Atlantic City (where I’ve been far too many times) absolutely repellant, but at the same time I don’t see how it’s the government’s job to determine who can and can’t gamble or what each of us as individuals does with their money.

    Ca$inos and other gaming outlets provide a service for payment rendered, just like any other business. Should we ban retail stores because some people are shopaholics and can’t stop themselves from going into Gimbels and spending beyond their means?


  • I fellow I know who lives in Vegas says that a lot of people don’t know they have a gambling problem until they move to Vegas.

  • Clavos

    In the final analysis, the decision to gamble or not is an individual one.

    While I recognize that there are people who cannot control their gambling, that’s not a good enough reason to outlaw gambling establishments, any more than the existence of alcoholism is a good reason for prohibition.

    And if it’s going to be legal (and licensed by the state), why shouldn’t public coffers receive their share?

  • Dr Dreadful

    Should we ban retail stores because some people are shopaholics and can’t stop themselves from going into Gimbels and spending beyond their means?

    Perhaps we should just ban people. Bunch of troublemakers if you ask me.

  • Gambling’s a vice we had under control, and now we rush to undo that. People will die, families will be impoverished, criminals will prosper and increase their bribes to officials. But it will make life more convenient for gamblers.

  • STM

    Gambling is a way of life here in Oz too. Sadly, Aussies will bet on two flies crawling up a wall … and there are palaces full of gaming machines, neon and gaudy beer-stained carpets in every suburb and country town. They are the Returned Services League (RSL) clubs or Leagues (Rugby League) Clubs, lawn bowling clubs too, and they seem designed to suck as much money as possible out of your pockets and into the coin slots of the “pokies”. The takings, as I understand it, are enormous. It’s really crook when you see the pensioners flocking in every second wednesday.

    These machines are now also in nearly every pub. Sad. So much for having a quiet ale with your mates.

  • Tacky nylon clothing is a vice we should have under control but the wide availability of such ugly and unhealthy clothing is a threat to us all. Families will be laughed at for looking gross and ugly, scarring their children for life, nylonists will prosper and increase their bribes to officials, companies peddling this filth will become profitable. But they do make life easier for the truly tasteless. Ban nylon now!

  • Cindy D

    Dr Dreadful,

    That is possibly the best idea I’ve ever heard.

  • Doug Hunter

    Government has declared gambling bad, unless you can give a monopoly over it to an underpriviledged group or use a government run monopoly on it to raise funds. It seems a little hypocritical to me. The state should just decide if it’s legal or illegal then let the markets do the rest. Unfortunately, politician’s love having this little ace in the hole (and the vast amounts of lobbying money that flows from it)