Gambling with your future
It is with some sad amusement to hear that Saipan has now embraced gambling casinos as a new industry for the island. While I can understand the desperation to find “something” as a short-term fix for the ailing economy, out of all things, gambling (in my opinion) had to be one of the most negative propositions available to choose. Gambling ills hold especially true for a captive audience surrounded by water and no easy escape unless you have the luxury of airfare when necessary to escape its clutches.
Just like the Trojan horse myth, casinos appear as a victory trophy that is hastily wheeled in by local governments to provide local residents with jobs and dreams of new tax receipts that will solve everything. If gambling was this true fix-all and shining economic diamond, then why are gaming revenues declining in places that were once gambling strongholds? Why have a large number of casinos filed for bankruptcy and reorganization so that they can continue to operate? What is the social collateral damage and cost in destroyed lives for those who tread unprepared into the world of psychological manipulation that gambling is based on? Why is Nevada working to diversify its economy away from gambling?
Regardless of any argument I could make about the negative “health” of the gaming industry, the real concern is the effect gambling has on the local community. To keep this letter brief, I will abstain from repeating the obvious documented problems that gambling brings to a local community such as I’ve witnessed here in Las Vegas. Anyone who is educated knows these facts. Those who don’t will soon witness them.
The true question is how much concern does your government have for the wellbeing of the community? While it is apparent that gambling is coming to Saipan, your government should be pressured to implement preventive measures to protect the lives and wellbeing of its citizens. Your gaming commission should draft measures that inhibit the participation of the local community as much as possible. First and foremost an organization that treats gambling addictions should be created. The local church and mental health organizations should participate. The gaming commission should also implement a regulation that allows for citizens to put themselves on a “voluntary banned list,” which once signed, will prevent them from entering a casino establishment forever and the casinos will be required to enforce it. Liquor should be regulated on the premises. No “free” complimentary alcohol drinks should be allowed to gamblers. Alcohol and gambling is the mix that generates profits for the casinos. If free drinks are provided, they should be given to holders of a “drinking permit”—a complimentary card for registered nonresident tourists only, much like a casino rewards card (and a nice souvenir for tourists to take back home). The casino commission should be required to publicly post gambling statistics from a particular casino including odds and payoffs on particular games. The gaming commission should regulate payoffs from slot machines to insure a “fair and equitable” payoff to players (slot machines have the worst odds for players).
Overall, the bottom line is that the same people who are bringing you the casinos have an obligation to protect you from them. Gambling is an industry that survives on losers, not winners. Think about that, will you?
Las Vegas, Nevada