Before feeding your coin to a slot, look at both sides
As we have said before, casino gambling is the most successful redistribution of wealth scheme ever devised. It takes from the poor and gives to the rich.
In its latest tentative incarnation -- a string of Indian-owned casinos across Ohio, including one proposed in Lordstown -- it would take from the poor and give to the Shawnee.
It is a difference without much distinction. The fact remains that the only long-term winner in any gambling relationship is the house.
Las Vegas has combined gambling with glitz and goodies to attract visitors from throughout the world. It would be hard to argue that Nevada did not profit by being a pioneer in legalized gambling.
But the rest of the country is littered with towns that have enjoyed various degrees of success and failure when casinos opened their doors.
Follow the money
Gambling emporiums -- whether they provide bingo, slot machines or table games -- consume discretionary dollars. To the extend that a casino can attract huge amounts of discretionary income from afar, it may be a good deal for the area. To the extent that those discretionary dollars are being drawn from the immediate area, every dollar lost at the tables means one dollar less spent at local restaurants, theaters, ball games or concerts.
Casinos also consume some income that isn't discretionary. Problem gamblers lose rent money, food money, money saved for education and retirement, money begged, borrowed and stolen. There are those who say that's the gambler's problem, but the gambler's entire family is victimized, and inevitably it becomes society's problem.
The bottom line: Gambling is a risky business. Those who promote it as a vehicle for balancing government budgets or revitalizing downtrodden areas may be the same guys who are convinced that they can beat the house -- that, or they are the house.