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Casino Junkies
Forbes Magazine | April 29, 2002 edition | Richard C. Morais, w/Heidi Brown

Posted on 04/20/2002 8:21:46 AM PDT by yankeedame

America is back to betting. It hasn't paused very long. Sept. 11 may have dented air travel to spots like Las Vegas, but neither that nor the economic down turn could stop the U.S. gambling estimated $64 billion..

..Americans today lose more gambling than they spend on movies, theme parks, spectator sports and videogames combined.

..the U.S. was the world's fastest-growing gambling market in the last decade, even though it had plenty of competition...worldwide. Global Betting estimated $900 billion was spent on legal wagers worldwide last year, leaving the industry with a $270 billion take..after gambling is almost as big a business as steel.

This isn't just a phenomenon of relaxed social strictures. There's a reason governments...are embracing this vice: to tax it. And few nations are traveling quicker down this path than the U.S.

Windfall: American government received $27 billion in "gambling privilege taxes" in 2000...a 45% increase since 1997. Two-thirds was from state-sponsered lotteries. Gambling now generates far more public revenues than either tobacco or alcohol.

America has been down this road before. The 1612-15 Jamestown,VA settlement was financed with English lottery money...By 1795 the likes of Harvard and Princeton drew on some 2,000 authorized lotteries.

But 19th-century Reformist disgust at gambling dens and lottery corruption brought decades in which legal betting in the U.S. was confined mostly to a few horse or dog tracks and an occasional church bingo night.

Then in 1964 a lottery reappeared in tax-starved New Hampshire; most other states would follow in the 1980s...the wholesale rout of gambling prohibition is traceable to two recent phenomena: Indian reservation getting a federal go-ahead in 1988 and the early 1990s recession inviting a revenue fix.

Consider South Dakota...the video lottery terminals in gas stations, bars and convenience stores, of which South Dakota skims 50%. The state's general fund gets 12% of its money from video lotteries.

Vidoe lotteries are the "crack cocaine" of gambling, says the Illinois-based Tom Grey, spokesman for the National Coalition of Legalized Gambling. Seven years after they were legalized, South Dakota had 8,000 of them, one for every 94 people in the state. Attempts to ban them are defeated at the ballot box...

...In the current two-year election cycle, equipment supplier International Gaming Technology and its subsidiaries have given $1million to politicos...

In California, for example, gaming interests and Indian tribes combined are up there with real estate developers as the largest sources of political fundraising...

The social questions inhertent in legalized gambling are ripe for debate...

..2.5 million American are "pathological" gamblers. And the poor disportionately waste their income on gambling...

Yes, the casinos warn the wastrels...but is a small-print caution enough fanny-covering to fend off future liability?

The National Center for Addication & Substance quietly making gambling a health care issue...saying scientists were discovering there was little difference between so-called psychological and physcial addiction; the brain waves and dopamine spikes in a drug addict and a gambling addict are strikingly similar...America's trial lawyers find such reports useful...

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: addiction; gambling; government
The entire article, about 2x this lenght, can be found in the April 29 issue of Forbes, or at

Also, had to key this thing by hand, so please excuse any typos.

1 posted on 04/20/2002 8:21:46 AM PDT by yankeedame
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To: yankeedame
A fool and his money are soon parted. Except for the taxation thing people should be allowed to gamble. It is their money and they have the right to spend it as they wish (though they better not ask me to bail them out).
2 posted on 04/20/2002 9:08:39 AM PDT by danielobvt
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To: yankeedame
Cold cash, money laundering & political payoffs/

Ahhh the trifecta.

3 posted on 04/20/2002 10:07:28 AM PDT by miamimark
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