Monday, July 23, 2007

The Gambling Debate Makes Strange Bedfellows

The upcoming "Table Games" election in Kanawha County is creating some interesting alliances and dividing some former allies, irrespective of party lines and ideological labels. Instead of being a Conservative vs. Liberal issue, or a Democrat vs. Republican issue, this election has created a whole new voting block from the extremities of the political spectrum. Ultra right-wing, bible-thumping evangelical preachers are on the same side as left-wing, cradle-to-grave social liberals. What's interesting is that virtually everyone between the two extremes is on the same side of the issue, too.

But while it is true that extreme liberals and extreme conservatives find themselves in agreement, they come to the same position for completely different reasons.

Most extreme conservatives are morally against gambling for religious reasons. Some fundamentalist Christians are of the opinion that gambling is sinful because the Bible tells them that the Roman guards cast lots for Jesus' clothing after his crucifixion (I've always found it interesting that these same people conveniently overlook the passage where the Apostles also cast lots to decide who would replace Judas). "Casting Lots" equals gambling and therefore is sinful behavior in their eyes. Interestingly enough, most non-religious conservatives are not against gambling, except in symbolic "solidarity" with their parties majority position.

Extreme liberals are against gambling because of the social costs. We should not be providing state-sponsored gambling any more than we should be providing heroin to schoolchildren. Gambling is a drug and there are powerless people who should be protected from that drug.

Now the wild card, the unknown, in all of this is the question of how big the middle group is. There is some serious courting going on from both sides, but the heavily-funded gambling industry has too much firepower. They are on TV and radio constantly bombarding the undecided with promises of jobs and economic prosperity if only the issue passes. The other side has only the argument that gambling is wrong.

Morals vs. Money - History predicts the outcome - Money usually wins.


Anonymous said...

In the words of a great politician, I believe there is a great silent majority (those in the middle) out there that is going to vote against this.
I think the gambling interests know they are behind, which is why we've seen all of these exaggerated claims & changed stories over the last couple of weeks.

clear eyes said...

There are also people opposed to this because we don't want to "up the ante" in the state government's addiction to gambling money. We're supposedly looking at table games because neighboring states now have slots and we need to do them one better to attract gamblers.

What's next? If Pennsylvania gets table games, will we then have to legalize and tax prostitution? Now that we're addicted to the money, it'll be hard to ever "go cold turkey" to get out of this mess, but we can try to hold the line before we damage more lives because the state is hungry for more dollars with which to buy our votes.

Anonymous said...

Give gambling back to the people. People should be able to gamble online and in the real world as long as they are of legal age.