Feature

When states profit from addiction

We have entered the era of the “casino-government complex.”

Michael GersonThe Washington Post

We have entered the era of the “casino-government complex,” said Michael Gerson. Facing $6 trillion in debts accrued over decades of fiscal mismanagement, 23 states have partnered with gaming companies to set up networks of small local casinos to suck more money out of the working class and the poor. These new casinos offer no Las Vegas showgirls or glitz, and are mostly located in sagging communities desperate for development. Once the locals show up with their money, the goal is to “encourage addiction.” So slot machines are programmed to feed players a diet of small wins, rewarding them just enough so they keep playing until their money is all gone. In casinos, addiction “is the intended result.” Studies show that up to 60 percent of slot-machine revenues come from problem gamblers, who consistently bet money they can’t afford to lose. “Perhaps we have given up on government as a source of moral improvement,” but should it actively promote addiction and the illusion of sudden wealth without work? If states are that desperate for money, the logical next step is government-run brothels and crack houses.

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