Friday, March 7, 2008

The Freedom Players

Slot machines are what you might call a cash cow.

Operating a bunch of slot machines is pretty much the closest thing there is to printing your own money.

The hell with table games. Slot machines are the economic engines driving casinos. People sit down at a machine, put their money in, and go home.

Try to imagine how much money has to jingle down their little mechanical throats, even with the occasional regurgitation, in order to build those sparkling glass towers, to offer all those plentiful comps, and to afford lavish lifestyles for their owners.

Even fractions of their potential earnings have been enough to buy governments. In 1992 the Governor of Connecticut sold his state to the casinos to cover a $150,000 budget shortfall, while present Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick upped the ante to $450 Million and the cost of a license.

Slot machines have created billionaires, torn apart towns, devastated families and destroyed lives. All in the name of some harmless entertainment.

Because, wherever someone plug in a slot machine, there will be addiction. No one even disputes that anymore.

There will also be more crime, divorce, bankruptcies, foreclosures, child neglect, spousal abuse, broken families, and suicide.

Deval Patrick, the feel good Governor, has magnanimously offered to divert $50 Million in aid to help the slot machine's best clientele – the gambling addict. Well… at least those gambling addicts who actually seek help.

But there’s nothing for the families. Nothing for the employers. Nothing for the friends. Nothing for the victims of their crimes. Nothing for all those who suffer from the actions of gambling addicts.

Slot machines don’t play fair. They are designed to make people think that they’ve almost won. And so they’ll put more money in and play again. Because, eventually, it has to pay off. Right? Someone has to win. That’s what they call the chase and it’s what brings people back, and what makes some of them steal from employers and friends and families and even their own children so they can keep feeding the machine.

It’s what makes the billionaires richer while the states which allow slots grow poorer. Initial profits, like those sounds and lights on a slot machine, distract our elected leaders from the realities and drown out the opposition while casino impacts build, become more insidious, and require mitigation. Budgets always manage to live up to the initial gambling windfall. Taxes will be raised. Gambling expanded. And still, the house always wins.

It’s the casino food chain.

Slot machine revenue can be so blindingly lucrative, and casino interests so influential to legislators across this country that every cent that’s “played” might be considered yet another cent stolen from our liberties.

Just look at our own Governor - buying in to those wildly distorted numbers, tuning into the investors, and trying to convince the House and Senate that casinos are inevitable because of Indian tribes, even though he knows better. He now spends his days evangelizing his "brilliant" casino buy-out plan as our only salvation, despite being elected to his office as a symbol of inspiration. As a result, he has become the object of harsh criticism from his own party, including some of his most devoted supporters. And still, he keeps chasing the money, pulling out all the stops on his stump for three mega-resort casinos.

But now, a small group of people have gone to the very heart of the gambling debate in our country. Ordinary people who’ve put their foot down on that manipulative little swindler known as the modern day slot machine.

The Freedom Players.

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How many people do we all know that dump say, $500 into their slot machine of choice, walk away with $200, and actually think they won something? Either that or they give you the old, "I broke even" line. Sterile revenue + Addicts = A waste of our tax dollars.