Sunday, January 22, 2012

An Uneven Playing Field

In response to several recent casino proposals, my town council recently suggested the formation of a “Gaming Mitigation Committee'.

So OK, here we go, Bridgewater, listen up.

From now on I need you to think of every casino proposal as if it were a football field.

Imagine that the company wanting to build a casino is at one end of the field. 

The town without a casino is at the other.

Now the second, the moment, the instant a town starts officially using the term 'mitigation', one of those teams moves up to the 50 yard line.

That's because, to the company wanting to build a casino, mitigation means there's a price tag a local government is willing to place on the safety and quality of life in that town.  

And that's music to their ears.

Because now they know they're just haggling over the price.

And 'Gaming'?

'Gaming' is a marketing term the gambling/casino/slot/corruption/political/lobbying industry uses to whitewash/soften/sanitize/glamorize/legitimize it's justifiably dirty image.

They want you and a two thirds majority of everyone else to believe that 'Gaming' implies a mostly harmless form of entertainment.

Well, certainly. 

A mostly a harmless form of entertainment that requires vast amounts of money to pay for the application of influence to assist it's passage into law, and for the expensive regulation, dedicated law enforcement, special interest umbrellas, and perpetually underfunded addiction treatment that follows. 

Not to mention 'mitigation' and tax rates high enough to avoid those tough legislative questions forever, whatever, Amen.

Look folks, Baseball and Football are games. Candy Land and Clue are games. Call of Duty and Mario Kart are games.  Sudoku, Mahjong, Poker and Blackjack are all games. Even Roulette is a game - of chance.

But the 'game' that the gambling industry makes the overwhelming bulk of it's money on – slots – is a deceptive, fixed and predatory 21st century form of loaded dice.

The only real game on the slot floor is the one being played by the casino, figuring out which players they can take, and for how much.

So, for the record, when someone who doesn't work for it starts using the term the 'gaming' industry, it's because they're  either new to it, or because a strange pod-like thing recently showed up in their living room.

Like the pods themselves, the term 'gaming' can be highly dangerous. So don't forget to use quotation marks to keep it safely contained.

And stay alert.  Always use the actual scientific term – gambling – to describe an industry that wins only when individuals, families, businesses and communities lose.

Furthermore – it's not 'The Casino' – it's the 'The Proposed Casino'.

And it's not a resort.  Don't even think of calling it a resort.  It's a casino that may happen to have a resort.  But it won't be a resort that just happens to have a casino.  Resorts don't need their own regulatory bureaucracy.

If you do talk of 'Impacts', keep in mind that the most important of those 'impacts' can never be quantified.

Listen, if you want a level playing field going into this, it's going to be up to you to keep it that way. 

So remember, the best offense is always a good defense.

Form a committee if you must, but call it what it is, a 'Casino Impacts Study Committee' or something of that nature.

Because if the gambling industry really wants to build a casino in your town, they need to prove to you why that would be such a tremendously good idea.

And not just wait for you to hand over the ball.