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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 27, 2007 / 13 Elul 5767

Casinos and the American way

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Recent snapshots from the casino wars:


Governor Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky wants his reelection battle with Democratic challenger Steve Beshear to turn on the issue of casino gambling. Fletcher opposes any expansion of legal gambling in Kentucky beyond the state's famous racetracks. Beshear favors amending the state constitution to legalize casinos. Last week, the governor embarked on a "No Casinos Tour" and began airing commercials warning that casino gambling will mean more crime, bankruptcy, and broken marriages. His opponent points out that casinos will generate $500 million a year in new state revenue.


In Florida, Governor Charlie Crist is hashing out a gaming agreement with the Seminole Indians, who operate seven casinos statewide. Those casinos have been limited to Class II slot machines, which are essentially glorified bingo games. But with lucrative Class III gaming — Las Vegas-style slots and table games — now lawful in Broward County, federal law entitles the Indians to offer high-end gaming as well, while allowing the state to negotiate a revenue-sharing deal. Crist is counting on casino money to plug the state's budget gap, but Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio calls expanded gambling "morally indefensible." Slot machines are "the most sinister form of gaming," he says. "They literally nickel-and-dime the least among us down to their last dollar."


The casino skirmishing in Massachusetts these days is especially convoluted. The town of Middleborough has invited the Mashpee Wampanoags to develop a casino complex in exchange for infrastructure improvements and annual payments of about $11 million. State Treasurer Tim Cahill calls that a lousy deal and wants the state to auction off casino licenses to private developers instead. A University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth study says casinos in East Boston, Springfield, and New Bedford would yield $430 million in annual tax revenues and 10,000 new jobs. Gambling foes from the Catholic Church to the League of Women Voters warn of the dire results casinos will lead to. And everyone is waiting to see whether Governor Deval Patrick comes out for or against legalizing casinos.


Then there is Kansas, where the attorney general wants the state supreme court to decide if a new casino gambling law is constitutional. And Michigan, where legislators have been fighting over letting racetracks add casino-style gambling. And Ohio, where Governor Ted Strickland has ordered hundreds of bars, clubs, and game parlors to shut down their electronic gambling machines or face criminal prosecution.


So it goes, year after year, in state after state: Entrepreneurs and investors who ought to have the same freedom to operate a casino as they would to open a shoe store or start a newspaper are forced instead to run an exhausting and expensive political gauntlet, often with no guarantee that casino gambling will even be permitted, let alone that they'll win a license to build one. How many other peaceful businesses offering a popular form of entertainment face such formidable legal and political barriers to entry?


Why do state governments treat casinos and their would-be owners this way? Surely it can't be from any inherent objections to gambling — 42 states and the District of Columbia have government-run lotteries, with annual revenues of more than $50 billion. It can't be because gambling is intrinsically immoral. Countless churches and religious organizations raise funds through bingo, lotteries, and Las Vegas nights. And it certainly can't be said that gambling flouts our national tradition. In 1776, the Continental Congress established a national lottery to help finance the Revolutionary War. Riverboat gambling thrived on Mark Twain's Mississippi. Saloon gambling was a mainstay of the California Gold Rush. Gambling is as American as bourbon and Betsy Ross.


There is no good reason why entry into the casino business should be so severely restricted. It is true, as Kentucky's governor and many others point out, that gambling has social costs. Though it's harmless fun for most people, some gamblers become addicted. Compulsive gambling can ruin lives and wreck families; David D'Alessandro, the former CEO of John Hancock, recently wrote movingly of the misery he and his family endured because of his father's gambling addiction.


But alcohol addiction devastates even more lives than gambling, yet who thinks we should return to Prohibition or make it all but impossible to open a bar or a liquor store? Automobile accidents kill 40,000 Americans every year, and severely injure tens of thousands more. The social costs of cars are steep, but no one wants lawmakers to criminalize auto dealerships or decide which cities can have one. The harm caused by graphic, violent, or propagandistic films may be great, but that isn't an argument for state-controlled studios.


The struggles of compulsive gamblers must not be minimized, but neither should they be used to justify authoritarianism. Gambling and casinos are not for everyone. But the American way is to err on the side of freedom.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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