Friday, October 16, 2009

Amsterdam West

Earlier this year I wrote about a New Hampshire legislator who wanted to introduce gambling legislation to that state, envisioning the Granite State transformed into a sort of "Delaware North" (his words, not mine).

But hey, we all need our dreams.

And so, I was reminded of "Delaware North" once again this week when I read about a Woman Arrested for Leaving Son in Car Outside Delaware Casino:
on Sunday at around 9 p.m. a security guard patrolling the parking lot at Delaware Park Racetrack and Slots spotted a 12-year-old boy alone in the car. Police say the boy's 33-year-old mother the boy in the car for more than two hours. According to police, the car was parked away from the main building and there was no way the boy's mother would be able to see the child from inside the facility.
Here are a few comments that followed the article.
When the casinos opened in Connecticut, this same issue happened over and over again. People who are "addicted" to gambling don't care about their children or responsibilities and will leave children in the most horrific conditions to follow that addiction.
Knowing that, and knowing the difficulties that places like Atlantic City have with the dregs of society, I can't imagine why Delaware would want to subject themselves to several more locations like that casino.
This is what is happening more and more each day, people need to understand that gambling is an addiction. Sometimes I'm not sure that building casinos in DE was ever a good idea because when they built them the people came but common sense left. I really feel sorry for the Young man because now he can see that his mother has a real problem!!!
Most likely a gambling addiction. I've worked with a lot of compulsive gamblers and it's sad, what they will do when 'under the influence'. Just as bad as drugs or alcohol. Probably not the first time the kid has sat alone for hours while mom gambles.
So I started thinking... why Delaware? Think big New Hampshire! You could be the new British Columbia South!

Why, just this year British Columbia has seen a record tally of gambling parents leaving kids in cars - 35 cases in fact.

The cases include:

A mother left her two children, aged 7 and 9, in the trunk of her burgundy Chrysler Intrepid on June 17, 2004, while she gambled at Boulevard Casino in Coquitlam.

A crying child was walking through the Boulevard Casino parking lot in Coquitlam on Jan. 19, 2009. When security located the mother in the casino, she returned to the parking lot, then scolded the child for leaving the car.

Three children, including a toddler and six-month-old, were left in a hotel hallway with a diaper bag in Lake City Casinos in Penticton on March 23, 2009, while their mother was in a casino gambling.

Two children under age 10 were left alone in a fifth-wheel trailer at Treasure Cove in Prince George on Aug. 7, 2008, while their grandfather spent nearly an hour at the blackjack table.

Here's the one comment someone left after this article:
I live right outside Atlantic City, NJ, and used to see this all the time. I would see 9 and 10 year olds sleeping at the entrance to casinos late at night. It made me sick. If parents had money to gamble, they should have $25-30 to pay a babysitter.
After a 10 year old girl got killed in Nevada, the casinos started cracking down on parents who leave their kids alone, but it still happens. One couple left their toddler in the car in the garage at Caesars, and then was on the TV news the next day saying "Can't they see I love my baby?" Yeah, right.
But folks, it's OK. Children in British Columbia can rest easy because all those neglectful parents and grandparents have been barred from casinos for a whole year.

That'll teach 'em.

And, with that kind of rock hard regulatory oversight available, why stop at British Columbia? New Hampshire could reach for the stars - and become Indiana East!

Indiana is the place where 72 children were abandoned around casinos in a 14 month period.

Wowee! They must be rolling in tax revenue in Indiana!

And heck, casinos aren't the only places to leave your kids when you go gambling...
children also are left unattended occasionally at other places such as shopping malls.
Though, of course, we never read about those other kids - the ones who get left alone at home. Unless something really bad happens...
MO - Mom lost eleven children in a deadly house fire in 1981. She had left the children home alone (10 months to 11 years old) while she was out gambling with their father in St. Louis. In the two decades since the fire, she has had six more children. Gambling lies near the center of most of the mom's problems. She loses consistently and often uses her children's public assistance money and checks for their various medical disorders to gamble, her children said. Consequently, she and her children have frequently been homeless. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch 3/26/01 By Denise Hollinshed)
But don't worry, New Hampshire. If your state does get slots, you'll soon be opening up the newspaper to find your own stories like the one about the Indiana parent
charged with child neglect after leaving her 3-month-old daughter in a locked car with the windows rolled up. The infant was revived after receiving oxygen.
Don't you just love a story with a happy ending?

Here's a few more heartwarming tales from the parking lot.
IN - Four children were left alone for at least four hours in a car parked at Buffington Harbor. The mother of the children, ages 2, 3, 9 and 16, was arrested late Tuesday after she emerged from one of the two casino boats there.Police found the youngest children clad only in diapers, crying because they were hungry and cold, police and witnesses said. (Youngsters left alone in car as mother gambles"/By Steve Patterson, Gary, Indiana)

IN - It was 9 degrees outside when the Keisha Clark, 24, left her 16-day-old infant, 2-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son in a car while she went into an East Chicago casino Feb. 19., police said. The infant was discovered unresponsive in the car about 1:30 p.m. that day, authorities said. The baby was successfully revived and two other children in the car were unharmed. (Woman must take parenting classes, Crown Point, Indiana 9/2/06)
If anyone would like a further preview of the great things we can expect if gambling expands in New England, check out the many, many stories about slot-related child abuse on the United to Stop Slots in Massachusetts web site's page on how expanded gambling will effect our State's children - and where you will also learn that child neglect is only the tip of the iceberg.

For instance,
  • At least 10 percent of children of gambling addicts suffer physical abuse at the hands of the addict
  • children of pathological gamblers frequently reported feelings of anger, sadness, and depression
  • 23 of the spouses and 17 percent of the children of pathological gamblers were physically and verbally abused.
  • 50 percent of spouses and 10 percent of children experienced physical abuse from the pathological gambler.
Pathological Gambling: A Critical Review (1999)
Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education (CBASSE)

And this doesn't even touch the troubles Delaware North could face with the growing problem of youth gambling.
There is no means to confine the impact of legalized gambling to adults. A Rutgers University study found that teens are twice as likely to be heavy gamblers if their parents gamble (Table 2.14). Teens are one-third more likely become pathological level 3 gamblers if their parents gamble (Table 3.5).

A University of Delaware study found that almost one-third of 8th and 11th graders in that casino state had gambled in the past year. Those Delaware teens gambling over the past month were two to three times more likely than non-gambling peers to smoke, binge drink, steal, or use illegal drugs. Student test scores drop. High school drop out rates increase.
The case for emulating Delaware just never stops, does it?

But you know what - it's not the fact that little children are being left to swelter or freeze alone in cars, locked in trunks, crying for their parents in parking lots, abandoned in "resort- casino" corridors, needing to be revived with oxygen, becoming more depressed, getting physically and emotionally abused or gambling before they're even old enough to vote that gets to me.

No, the truly grotesque thing about all this is that some State governments are promoting this genuine source of misery.

Not some big private corporation with it's eye on the bottom line and answerable to a bunch of faceless stockholders - but the very people we elect into office to make responsible decisions and protect our children from bad things - not so they can perform their jobs like a bunch of anesthetized tax collectors who spend too much, then write checks on the backs of children from families with gambling problems - aka casinos best customers.

Equally repugnant are the 'big' three in our own home State - Deval Patrick, Bob DeLeo and Therese Murray who pretend - even with all this easily attainable evidence - that gambling is just another business - like Walmart or Best Western or Outback Steakhouse.

Well it's not.

Gambling - most especially in the form of modern slot machines causes changes in the brain similar to that of crack cocaine. This summer I attended a Statehouse hearing on expanding gambling where Hans Breiter, MD, director of the Laboratory for Neuroimaging and Genetics at Mass. General Hospital spoke about his brain scan research.
Breiter goes on to show scans of brains of “normal” people, along with scans of people addicted to various substances and activities such as cocaine and slot machines. And sure enough – the coke scans match up with the slot scans. Breiter says he can't tell the difference between them. He also refers to it “cocaine expectancy” and “monetary expectancy”. He talks about the creation of structural abnormalities in the brain. Some that can be fixed and some that can't.

He talks for a long time, about a lot of things like risk factors and free will and slippery slopes. But in the end, insists his presentation is about 'models' and that to the brain, the 'gaming' model is basically the same as the drug mode.
Which makes sense, since we see child neglect and abuse all the time in cases of parental drug addiction.

So I have a thought - since we're considering throwing responsibility to the wind anyway here in Massachusetts, why not legalize drugs and collect tax revenue from it? We could shore up the old budget with something that people are already doing anyway! Heck - it's a form of entertainment! Not everyone partakes and not everyone who does gets addicted.

As for those who do, rest assured, we'd do this the right way. First, we'd sell licenses to build big resort-destination drug parlors, (what souless enterprising capitalist blessed with explicit governmental sanctions to create addicts wouldn't jump at one of those?) where people could pop, inject or inhale "responsibly", then we'd regulate them and use the tax revenue to set up about 20 or so addiction centers which we could totally have up and running in about 6 months!

Talk about an economic shot in the arm!

And the best part? We could call ourselves... Amsterdam West!


Nocasino said...

Great post Gladys! Thanks

Middleboro Remembers said...

The saddest thing about all of the despicable incidents you reported is how easily they are ignored by gambling supporters.

When I attempted to discuss the consequences of gambling addiction with Senator Pacheco, he just dismissed it.

Senator Pacheco formed his opinion 30 years ago and has closed his mind to all the evidence.

Gladys Kravitz said...

MR, whenever I hear Therese Murray or someone else say they think casinos are "inevitable" - I think, well then, you're also saying casino-related child neglect and abuse are also inevitable. And, especially in Ms. Murray's case, I think - wouldn't you fight something like that? I mean - what - are you just going to lie down like a doormat and let this happen to kids in your own state - a State you supposedly represent to the best of your ability? Where, exactly, is the ability? I mean, lots of things in life are supposed to be inevitable, but, as far as I can tell, it's still just death and taxes. Everything else - depends on how much you want to put into it.

Apparently, Mr. Pacheco and Ms. Murray don't feel the next generation of Massachusetts citizens are worth the effort. But then, that generation doesn't vote. So there you go.