FROM PHOENIX, ARIZONA Topic: NORTH AMERICAN AFFAIRSPHOENIX, June 23 - The nine-member National Gambling Impact Study Commission, appointed by President Clinton and the bipartisan congressional leadership, has now released its two-year, $5 million-report on the social and economic impact of legalized gambling. And as most studies done by a committee, the Commission's conclusions were ambivalent and ambiguous enough to allow both proponents and opponents of gambling to use segments of the report to bolster their positions.
The Commission said gambling's positive economic impact was easy to identify, including the transformation of "sleepy backwaters" into thriving communities, the end of chronic poverty on Indian reservations where casinos have been established, and the phenomenal growth of Las Vegas, the nation's preeminent gambling mecca.
But they said there was also "a different tale of lives and families devastated by problem gambling, of walled-off oases of prosperity surrounded by blighted communities, of a massive transfer of money from the poor to the well-off, of a Puritan work ethic giving way to a pursuit of easy money."
In other words, the "get rich quick" life's philosophy, which is transforming America from a nation of producers to a nation of gamblers.
The report said that Americans lost $50 billion in gambling last year and that "there is no end in sight" to the growth of gambling.
"Without a pause and reflection, the future does indeed look worrisome," the commission said. "Were one to use the experience of the last quarter century to predict the evolution of gambling over the next, a likely scenario would be for gambling to continue to become more and more common, ultimately omnipresent in our lives and those of our children, with consequences no one can profess to know."
Meanwhile, two days before the Commission released its findings, which included 76 recommendations, the Gallup poll had found that legalized gambling in America enjoys broad public acceptance, reflecting the steadily increasing role that lotteries, casinos and other games of chance have come to play in the nation's culture.
Nearly two-thirds of American adults approve of legal gambling, a Gallup poll said Wednesday (June 16). Three-quarters of those surveyed said they approve of state lotteries, while 67 percent said that opening a casino helps a community's economy.
Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia now run lotteries; commercial casinos operate in 10 states, and Indian tribes have opened casinos in at least 22 states.
Almost half of those polled favored maintaining the current level of legal gambling, while 22% favored expansion, 16% wanted to roll it back and 13% supported a gambling ban.
"There is a clear distinction in Americans' minds about the economic benefits of casinos and the social impact on the communities in which they operate," Gallup reported.
Legalized gambling "is creating a compulsive gambling problem in this country," said 55% of the adults surveyed, and 68% said they believe sports betting leads to cheating or fixing games.
The gambling industry may face a popularity problem in the future, as the teen-agers who were polled, more than the adults, saw a dark side to gambling.
Only 52% of teen-agers polled said they approve of legal gambling, compared with two-thirds of the adults. Asked to assess the statement that gambling harms respect for the value of hard work, 58% of the teens agreed strongly or somewhat, compared with 43% of adults.
The presidential Commission's findings "will act like the surgeon general's 1964 report on smoking and health - a wake-up call for America on the dangers of gambling," said Tom Grey, executive director of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, told the Washington Post (June 18).
"I am even more convinced now that gambling is a destroyer," James C. Dobson, president of the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family, told the Post.
Richard C. Leone, president of the Century Foundation, took aim at government officials who profess disapproval of gambling but use it to generate revenue rather than raise taxes. "The hypocrites on gambling are the governors, the state legislators, the members of Congress who say 'personally I'm against gambling but we need Powerball,' " he told the Post.
The Commission had also identified more than 15.4 million pathological or problem gamblers in the country, who represent about 15% of the gambling industry's revenues.
And it said that gambling has grown ten-fold since 1975. At least one form of legalized wagering is conducted in 47 states, the Commission noted.
In 1997, Americans spent more than $47 billion on gambling, compared to $81 billion on video, audio and computer equipment, $52 billion on publications and $6 billion on movie tickets.
And Now, a Story Behind This Gambling Story...
So that was the gambling story, as told by the Clinton-appointed Commission, whose pro- and con-gambling recommendations are guaranteed to produce a typical Washington gridlock which follows a two-year, $5 million delay.
And now, here's a story behind the gambling story:
By now, we hope you're getting the message. The American society is being corrupted by an addiction worse than drugs. For, it impoverishes many more people, while creating an illusion of prosperity and feeling good. Just like drugs. Until the day of reckoning comes...
Clinton's gambling Commission spent two years and $5 million of taxpayers dollars studying the $50 billion or so casino industry.
But what about the $13 trillion Wall Street casino industry? What about the over 77 million adult Americans who participate in this form of legalized gambling, foolishly assuming that the odds are as "fair" as that in Las Vegas or Atlantic City? (see "Stock Buybacks: Corporate Cabbage Patch Dolls," TiM GW Bulletin 98/10-10, 10/31/98).
In 1997, for example, American households and non-profit organizations held $5.7 trillion in stockmarket equities, according to the 1997 New York Stock Exchange "Fact Book" - a 10-fold increase since 1970.
Together with the institutional gamblers, the Wall Street casino was a $13 trillion industry in 1997, a gambling sin 277 times greater than that of the penny-ante Las Vegas or Atlantic City players.
The amount of money the Wall Street sharks are turning over these days is the equivalent of 1.8 times the nation's GDP.
What message does that send to the American public?
Sorry, Mr. Solon. Your 27-century message has finally become outdated.
The real message of 1999 is that you CAN fool millions of people all of the time, as long as you offer them the "get rich quick" chance as bait.
In other words, gambling. A vice worse than heroin. For, it destroys whole nations, not only individuals. And it turns America - a nation of producers, into America - a nation of gamblers.
Also, check out... "What's a Trill Here, a Trill There...?", "Services-based Economy Means Cheaper Labor," "Natives Are Getting Restless," "Toward Nations of Obedient Mutts", "Klinton's Amerika: Israel's Tomahawk", "Two Faces of Globalism", "Canadian Banks Speculating Against Canadian Dollar", "Election '98: Much Ado About Nothing", "A Spoof on Goof: ABC Adds God to Its Editorial Lineup," "Taking a Little Bite Out of the 'Big Apple'", "Greenscam's Meriwether Bailout," "Wall Street's Conquest of America," "Yeltsin-IMF Deal: Feeding Drugs to Drug Addict", "Like Watergate, Cover-up Worse Than Original Crime," "Death Merchants 80; U.S. Taxpayers 19" , "The Great American Divide Widens", "Was Buchanan Robbed in Louisiana, Iowa, Arizona?"
Or Djurdjevic's WASHINGTON TIMES columns: "When Will Wall Street's Bubble Burst?", "Russia, IMF, and Global House of Cards", "Rekindling NATO to Fuel Cold War...", "The Great American Hoover", "Russia, IMF and Global House of Cards" , "Christianity Under Siege: Toward a One World Religion,"