Green or No Green

In a newsbrief today I received notice that Mississippi’s casino gambling rackets have now set a new revenue record. The casinos of Mississippi are not only located along the Gulf Coast, but in other places such as Natchez, Vicksburg, Greenville, and Tunica. There is the Choctaw casino complex in Philadelphia, but they are not accounted for in this report. Before I give you the grand total, I want to remember that it was the Mississippi Gulf Coast that took the brunt of the worst natural disaster ever in the history of the United States. Even now there are many communities along the Mississippi Gulf Coast that are struggling to survive. The rebuild effort is far from over. There are still thousands of FEMA campers in the lower three counties. Some of the areas where casinos are located are some of the most impoverished areas of our state.

Governor Barbour did an excellent job of fundraising after Katrina. He set out to work hard for the people of Mississippi and accumulated quite a sum. It’s not always easy to get … but I know lots of people who got lots of money. Money came from FEMA to some individuals who met qualifications. Other sources of recovery money are available. It is too often the case that there is no accountability with this money once it is in the hands of the hurricane victim. And it only makes sense to me that because of the thousands of people receiving recovery money on the Coast, the gambling rackets have set a new revenue record.

The new record? More than $2.89 BILLION. The math part of my brain doesn’t work very well and I cannot even begin to tell you how much money that is. It won’t pay off the national debt, it won’t keep the Army or Navy in good standing, but it’s more than any of us will ever see. And where did it come from?

Anybody who keeps up knows that Mississippi is not HIGH on the standard of living index. We generally come in LOW in terms of education, job opportunities, and other economic measures. So where did almost 3 billion dollars come from? I’d be willing to bet (did I just say that?) that some of it comes from money that was MEANT to pay for new homes, replace furniture, and renovate structures. I would also guess that much of it came from pockets that could not really afford it.

A good example of how this works is the television game show, DEAL OR NO DEAL. The underlying element that makes this show ‘work’ is greed. I don’t want to explain the whole show, but contestants are offered smaller amounts of money in order to sacrifice making bigger amounts of money. Now ‘smaller’ and ‘bigger’ are relative. I mean to say that there is a chance to win a million dollars on the show – but no one ever has. In the mean time people are passing up sums of up to $300,000 in order to try to win a million – which if they have watched the popular show, they could already know that this is not likely. They are now on a “Million Dollar Mission” and offering seven and eight chances to win a million instead of one – and still no one has won the million bucks. So why pass up $150,000 or $200,000 guaranteed dollars in order to try to win a million? It’s nothing but greed. And most of the contestants go home with much smaller amounts in the end…if anything. (Here’s a flash version of the game you can play!)

And I think this is what has brought about the big profit in the gambling industry this year. There is money in hand, but there’s lots more money to win. If we could just pull one more handle, play one more slot, one more hand… we just HAVE to win! Even if you haven’t thought about it a lot, take a look at the tall buildings, the big hotels, the neon lights, the beautiful gardens … who do you think paid for all of that? How much advertising revenue is being earned by the media? I believe that those beautiful structures were built with the money of losers. Every dollar lost is gained by the casino. Think you’re about to win? Cash your paycheck. Do you have your car title? What about a credit card? Look across the street – there’s a pawn shop. Once you’ve spent so much, there’s no turning back.

How many people have you met who really won BIG at the casinos? How many of them really won “big” if you take away all the money they’ve gambled since they started the habit?

Not everyone who gambles in a casino is out of control. Not everyone has a problem. There are casual gamblers who can spend their fifty dollars and go home. I think they are few and far between. If you have a gambling problem, you are not alone. In fact there are so many of you that the casinos earned almost $3 billion of your dollars. Deal? It’s no deal. Greed or no Greed? If you are out of control, seek help immediately.

Ask yourself Twenty Questions from Gamblers Anonymous.

National Counsel on Problem Gambling.

Treatment for Compulsive Gambling.

Gambling Addiction.

Internet Gaming – a Hidden Addiction.

Gambling Addiction in the Workplace.

Thanks for reading,

John

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