(Please read this whole article and interact with my whole argument)
I recently heard that a casino has been proposed for a community that is literally down the street from where I live. There are pictures, proposals, and a bit of media blitz revving up. I immediately tweeted @NikkiHaley and asked her not to promote the new casino. Today, I am happy to have read, that Haley has state on Facebook that she will not support the casino or approve expanded gambling in South Carolina, and she continued to emphasize that her administration will promote manufacturing and industry jobs to the state. I clicked “like” immediately.
The comments section immediately lit up, and the most common arguments for gambling in South Carolina are, “Its more jobs,” “It will bring more money into the tourist economy,” and “You can do it online and in Vegas, why not here? North Carolina will get all the money,” etc, etc. The same arguments are made in New Hampshire and Massachusetts about the Connecticut casinos that draw people in so I’m familiar with them, but I am still anti-casino, but also anti-gambling.
I don’t believe that gambling, in the big picture, benefits anyone.
It is a form of entertainment based on the adrenaline rush of possibly losing your money. In fact most people do lose money, and that is what goes to pay profit to those who run the operations, as well as pay out the rewards to a select “few” who beat the odds. Very rarely do the numbers work out that people gain more than is taken. I’m not a math man, but I assume that these places wouldn’t exist if the odds weren’t heavily in their favor. So basically, more people lose than win. Applying basic Pavlovian psychology to this situation, and you have an atmosphere for highly addictive behavior. In studies, when a reward is applied sometimes, but not always, it is more addictive than if the reward is always applied. At the slot machines, you win some and you lose some, so people widdle away the hours thinking “one more, and I’m done…one more and I’m done.” Its a system designed to draw you and and get more and more serious until you lose big. While addictions are a part of life (caffeine being one), this one is literally giving away money. The impracticality of it, in my opinion, makes it wrong for the individual. To go in knowing that you will likely lose, allotting a certain amount to give away, but hoping that you will win big.
(1) Our hope should not be placed in money. Gambling places the dollar on too high a pedestal. Getting more dollars won’t solve your problems, it won’t solve societies problems. “More money, more problems” in other words.
(2) Our entertainment should not have the possibility of loss of income that could be used for better use. We should be wise with our money. Giving it away to the glowing lights is not wise and by the odds is not going to produce good fruit.
(3) Some entertainments grow us as people and make us more capable as human beings. Gambling does not improve you physically, spiritually or mentally. It is a behavioral adrenaline rush in which you play with risk and hope not to be wiped out. It is a waste of our potential, our talents, and what we could be giving to our world.
(4) These buildings close people off from society and many leave thinking of only of their next return – where they will only lose more time and more potentially more money.
(5) Lastly, to address the biggest justification for a casino, to give money to something good. This is to create a money tube. People bring money, they game, they lose money willingly, that money is given to a cause (ex. education). This looks great at first. People don’t like taxes, but they’ll “game” in a casino. Need money for education, get a casino, cash flows to state who pays for education – problem solved. Not so! A good society needs to value education. Indirect funding of education through gaming brings people to value the gaming rather than the end result – a well rounded educated society. You fund something good (educated young people for a brighter tomorrow) with something that teaches unwise investment of resources (gambling), the opposite of what you would teach in a classroom. Unless you want to teach that Gambling is good because it funds education – which is false. Education is good because it gives people the tools they need to be productive members of society. Gambling can only be argued as being good on its own two feet. What good, on its own, does gambling provide? Adrenaline? Risk? Fun? But weigh that against its own down sides. Loss. Addiction. Broken Relationships. Distraction. How does it stand on that alone? My argument is this: Education should be funded. Gambling is one way to do it, but it is not the best way. If we really value Education, we would make a good case to the public of what we need to educate the next generation on Education’s merits alone. Not, in what the individual can get out of it. This thinking makes our society more selfish than it needs to be, and it is distasteful to me.
Some people say that it is your own money, and another person has no right to say what the other will do with it. That would be a good argument if we all didn’t live together in communities where we all interact and we rise and fall on the strength of the whole. As a person who lives in a community with many others, I do expect that everyone is being wise with their time, their money, and their talents. I expect that they use their money to produce actual products, ideas, and dreams. I would hope that their entertainments would make them better people (by interacting and growing through reading books, informing television, physical competition and world growth challenges, expanding the mind and doing service that helps others and that grows the heart and mind).
I don’t know the statistics about how much of an economic impact this would have, nor do I know how much of it would go to education, or other tacked on provisions to make it “worthwhile”. I do know that there are better ways for all of us to use our money. I do know that people should be giving to education anyway – and we should be ashamed to say we would only give that money if we are “entertained” for it. I know that the world sometimes works in the wrong ways to try and achieve the right outcomes, but I prefer to try to attain both. The right means to the right goals.
So I’m thankful that a casino is not supported, and I hope that it will be seen as a positive safe guard of our treasure, our time, and our good work. Let’s focus on better things.