Letters to the Editor 07/21/11
The person sitting next to you in church, the man in line at the grocery store, or one of your co-workers; any one of these could be involved with a gambling problem [see “Gambling on the fairgrounds,” by Rachel Wells, July 14]. Imagine your grandmother committing a crime to support her gambling addiction. I am a recovering alcoholic, a gambler, and have recovered from other addictive behaviors. I published a book, Gripped by Gambling, where the readers can follow the destructive path of the compulsive gambler, a prison sentence, and then onto the recovery road.
I recently published a second book, Switching Addictions, describing additional issues that confront the recovering addict. If a person who has an addictive personality doesn’t admit to at least two addictions, he’s not being honest. I also publish a free online newsletter, Women Helping Women, which has been online for more than 10 years and is read by hundreds of women (and men) from around the world (www.femalegamblers.info). I was interviewed and appeared on the “60 Minutes” in January 2011, which was moderated by Leslie Stahl.
Sun City, Ariz.
GAMBLING A BAD IDEA
“If people don’t want to come out to the ballpark, nobody’s gonna stop them.” – Yogi Berra on the decline in baseball attendance after television.
After reading “Gambling on the fairgrounds” by Rachel Wells, July 14, I think I have a better understanding of why our state government wants to increase the number of gambling positions in Illinois. Our legislators want to add gambling, which is really just a tax on the poor, and which causes at least as many problems as it solves, to subsidize a (deservedly) dying horse racing industry. I have a story that would be funny, were it not so sad. My economics professor at Quincy College, Dr. Gabriel Manrique, in explaining the product and business life cycle said, “Let’s say you manufacture buggy whips, and your buggy whips are so well designed and manufactured that your name is synonymous with buggy whips. Unless you are willing to change and adapt you will become a footnote in history.”
Illinois is home of corrupt government and the last great manufacturer of buggy whips. Gambling does not “generate” revenue, it merely passes money from one person to another and, because of the licensing agreements, a great part of it is lost in the transaction. Gambling is a terrible idea.
I am originally from Delaware and have seen both sides of the racino issue. With no previous gambling there, the morality issue did come in. However, once enough of the proceeds went to the state, it became vital. It really has been a good thing for the state, especially for the horse racing industry.
Passing of racino legislation had very positive effects in Delaware. The purse structure became the second best in the country. Before the legislation passed, my taxes in Delaware went up for the first time in over 20 years, due to the loss of income from horse racing. Afterwards, taxes were reduced.
A healthy horse racing industry means more than you know. It’s not just the people employed in racing. It’s the farmers who sell them hay and straw. It’s the farm stores that sell them feed. It’s the equipment manufacturers, the gas stations, the auto dealerships, the real estate taxes, buying and selling of houses, groceries and everything else. Without a healthy racing industry everyone loses.
I was not a big proponent of gambling in Delaware when it first came about. Having had the time to evaluate it now I see it as a good thing for the people of Delaware. Maybe Illinois becomes the center of harness racing as a result. Each state is different, but the combination of slots and race tracks has produced consistently good results in every state that does it.