Recently Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill that expanded gambling “opportunities” in Pennsylvania. This was part of the deal to try and balance Pennsylvania’s budget. It was a bad deal.
Not so very long ago there were several sins that had been since Biblical times. One was prostitution and now, thanks to Larry Flynt and his crusade for what he called free speech, we have a pornography “industry” that amounts to no more than legalized prostitution. I almost choked when I heard one woman describe herself as an adult film actress. There used to be another name applied to her trade.
Gambling was also once considered a sin or at the very least a vice. In our county’s recent past we have seen raids on gambling devices in private clubs and video poker machines in bars. Sports betting and the numbers games was once the province of organized crime. Now the government runs the numbers only now it is now called a lottery.
Organized crime syndicates also ran underground gambling halls but now it appears state governments have moved in and taken that away as well. In Pennsylvania the state made a small fortune by granting casino licenses.
The common denominator behind all of this legalized gambling may be summed up in one word: Money.
It is a sad commentary that our state government could not find another way to increase revenues than by expanding a vice.
Many people gamble and are not addicted. Some folks like to visit the casinos for the thrill of it all. Many will set a limit on what they can lose at the tables and will leave when they have exhausted their ready cash.
There are others who cannot leave the tables. The state realizes this problem. Why else would every advertisement for a casino carry a notice that tells anyone with a gambling problem who they can contact for help. To solve one problem, the need for cash, the state has created another problem, gambling addiction.
Knowing all of this the state government has decided to expand the gambling “opportunities.” The law allows for municipalities to opt out of the expansion lottery. In our area boroughs have been split on the issue. A few have said no without batting an eyelash. Others have yet to make a decision.
There are obvious advantages to having a casino in your town. The borough would gain revenue from increased real estate taxes and the casinos would employ local people in a variety of positions.
There could be a dark downside. While the casino itself is highly regulated by the state, the spin-off businesses are not. These spin-off businesses would be very similar to what you find near almost every casino off of the reservation. There would be motels, restaurants, bars and other recreational facilities. There would be loose women as well. The so-called “oldest profession” is not unknown in our area. Fast money would only encourage the trade.
Years ago I visited Las Vegas, the original sin city, for a major convention. My friends and I decided to save the cab fair and walk back to our hotel. In the six blocks we walked we were solicited at least five times. I don’t think I would like to see that type of activity on Allegheny Boulevard or by Scripture Rocks Park.
What municipal leaders must ask themselves is if the immediate gains derived from a casino outweigh the long term impact. Money really does corrupt.
I do not believe any casino developer is considering placing a casino in our area. We are simply too far removed to be profitable. That may change however. The state may decide it needs even more inome from gambling and open the door even wider.
A writer on our Facebook page said the Brookville Council failed to enact an ordinance prohibiting porn shops until after one came to town. The porn shop is still here.
The only question is will our local municipal leaders act too late or simply not act at all?