If I had to bet on Conway, well, I just wouldn’t. What is strange about Conway is that it isn’t stupid, but often acts like it is. The town needs economic revitalization. Casinos are not the answer.
Growing up, my mother always said, “Q, we don’t gamble.” Of course, that didn’t make one bit of sense because I could take a dollar of candy money, gamble it and win $100. But then I went to school. And then I took a statistics class as a freshman at Kennett and said, “by golly, you’ve got to be a real idiot to ever gamble.”
The house always wins. The longer you play, the more likely it is you’ll lose. People who have lost large sums are more likely to take greater risks to recover those losses, digging themselves deeper. Winners are likely to wage more, believing they’re on a streak. And then they lose.
After a winning number is drawn, idiots will avoid playing that same number the next week, even though the probability it’ll be drawn again has not changed. If a gas station sells a winning ticket, they’ll flock to that location the following week, even though it’s just as likely the next winning ticket will be sold five miles away.
People who gamble regularly are often poor. They’re probably poor because they’re less educated, and this, the same reason they gamble. And gambling is more likely to keep them poorer than they might otherwise be. Those who gamble will spend less of their household budget on things like food, rent and other bills. Society makes up the difference in the form of welfare.
Millions of Americans are pathological gamblers. They tend to reside within 50 miles of gaming centers. They’re also more likely to have been arrested and imprisoned. Many have declared bankruptcy. Many are on public assistance. Exceptions always serve to prove a general rule, and when it comes to gambling, we’re talking about poor and stupid people — a welfare mother pushing a stroller around in a smoke-filled casino at 3 a.m. playing slots while her toddler sleeps.
It is naive to think that by creating a magnet for trash, that somehow a garden of flowers will flourish. A large study published in 2004 used county level crime data in 3,165 counties, between the years 1977 and 1996, and found sharp increases in crime — robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, auto-theft, rape etc — in areas where a new casino arrived.
Similarly, a study coming out of the National Bureau of Economic Research found that four years after a native American casino arrived, those areas saw a 10 percent spike in larceny, auto theft, violent crime and bankruptcy. Like a factory that dumps waste into the water, casinos create negative externalities and costs that will ultimately be shouldered by taxpayers, and not the owners of the casino itself.
This is a terrible deal. In effect, some out-of-town fat cat will get rich by creating problems for the rest of us. And while the state of New Hampshire will get a slice of the pie, the town will not. Conway, hear me: you already have a trash problem, please don’t make it worse. Every village has one idiot. But now you intend to engineer an entire village of idiots — a mess you’ll have to manage.
The argument that charitable casinos are a net social benefit because they generate money for good causes is like trying to clean the Saco River by putting a car wash next to it. The casino is a tax on poor and stupid people, regardless of how those funds are eventually used. Why? Because the average wealthy and educated Jackson Village resident will not be patronizing this establishment. It’s just a dark, smokey, soul-sucking Gollum-cave filled with sad people. A graveyard of broken dreams.
Conway voters appear to understand all of this, at least intuitively, seeing as they’ve rejected the far less evil Keno game at the annual town meeting four times. Conway Poker Room and Casino, LLC, is a for-profit gambling entity. If voters must decide on Keno, then surely they must be allowed to weigh in on a casino proposal.
Those who hold positions of power in Conway’s local government need to get their collective noggin out of their proverbial keister, and think. This casino will hurt the people. Find a way to kill it. Let Mr. Anganost of Manchester go torment some other community.
On this, I can find common ground with "Q".
Now if he applies the same reasoning to legalizing Pot, we'd really be making progress.
It seems obscene to be allowed to encourage irresponsible behavior for the sake of the public treasury, only to use a portion of the same to solve our social problems.
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