Friday, October 26, 2012

Casinos, glorious casinos located everywhere, sounds like nightmare to me

Sometimes, I wonder what goes through the minds of people who are eager to have gambling in the form of slot machines.

Because it seems they won’t be happy until we have the chance to play a slot machine everywhere we go. A trip to the tavern? Toss away a few quarters.

HOW ABOUT A trip to the supermarket? Get people all worked up that they can win enough money to “buy” their groceries that day, and claim it’s their own fault when they wind up losing.

Catching a flight to somewhere, and you have a layover at a stray airport? Pass the time away by trying to win a few bucks, that perhaps you could then spend on overpriced items at the airport gift shop!

The latter scenario is the one we’re focused on now, as the City Council used budget hearings to consider whether slot machines ought to be installed at O’Hare International Airport.

Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino pointed out how slot machines are now common sights at airports around the world – not just the one at Las Vegas (where the slots at the airport used to be an amusing sign of just how reliant that city’s existence was on gambling and casinos).

OF COURSE, ANDOLINO didn’t bring up any of the potential for moralistic flaws in having gambling. She described a situation where people could spend that four-hour layover at O’Hare by getting a spa treatment, something to eat, then entertaining themselves by pitching quarter after quarter into the slot machine – in hopes of winning themselves a few bucks before they move along to their actual destination.

Personally, I don’t care if people want to gamble (and yes, it’s gambling, not gaming). The idea of a casino in an airport doesn’t stir up some special sense of disgust in my mind.

Will this soon become the "O'Hara" casino?
But it’s just the idea that I wonder where the idea of slot machines outside of traditional casinos will end.

Do we really need to have them at the public library, or in our favorite fast-food restaurants? How about mobile slot machines on board the “el” or perhaps all the old telephone booths can be converted so that people can fulfill their urge to gamble while walking down the street?

YES, THESE KINDS of images are quite a bit over the top. They are extreme.

But I get the sense that the supporters of expanded gambling (the ones who argue that any moralistic qualms about gambling are irrelevant at a time when many governments need all the tax revenue they can get to pay their bills) really want us to be able to toss away our spare change on something other than a video game.

Hey, why not convert all those old video arcades into places where people could gamble?

My own viewpoint is that there has to be some limit to the number of gambling opportunities, otherwise they wind up cannibalizing revenue from each other.

WHICH WOULD MAKE no one location all that profitable. You need to have fewer casino gambling opportunities in order for them to take in significant amounts of revenue (which is what is needed in order for the government taxes to reach significant levels).

Personally, it was why I was kind of pleased to see Gov. Pat Quinn use his veto power to reject the bill that would have created a Chicago casino, another in southern Cook County and a third not far from Waukegan, along with a couple others outside of the Chicago-area and slot machines at places like racetracks, the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield AND the Chicago-area airport.

What we have is city officials trying to keep alive a concept that Quinn has already dropped the bomb on – and for good reason.

Otherwise, we’d probably have to carry the slot machine plan out to its extreme – when will be the day that a slot machine will be installed in everybody’s home? We can lose our money directly to government while clad in our pajamas without ever having to walk out the front door.


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