Recently a reader "Rob" wrote an extended comment to this post explaining his opinion that casinos are "the enemy." Rob made some points that are core to many AP's defense of their "enemy/evil" maxim towards casinos. I am going to take this opportunity to respond to Rob's arguments, as well as the "casinos are the enemy" doctrine, directly in this post.
You (Rob) wrote:
I assume you have been in casinos a lot. You know that slot machines hold a usurious ten percent in some states and often more. You have seen guys down to their last dollar and in tears at the table. I guess you'd say that is on them. But you've probably also seen extremely drunk, clearly incapacitated patrons that the casino happily dealt to. Maybe you've witnessed a guy getting backroomed for counting. I personally had to go to court when a casino got two security guards to perjure themselves and say they'd trespassed me when in fact they had done nothing of the sort (I won).
There is a lot of information in this paragraph. I'll take it one sentence at a time.
I assume you have been in casinos a lot.
Yes, I have.
You know that slot machines hold a usurious ten percent in some states and often more.
"Usury" refers to an illegally high interest rate on a loan. There is no loan taking place from the casino to the patron that he is repaying by pushing a button on a slot machine. As for the implied immorality of a 10% hold, that is what the market will bear for the cost of the entertainment being offered. In Nevada the hold can be as high as 25%.
You have seen guys down to their last dollar and in tears at the table. I guess you'd say that is on them.
Actually, I haven't seen these guys, and I have spent hundreds, possibly thousands of hours in casinos both in the U.S. and internationally. I can't recall a single guy I saw who was down to his last dollar and was in tears at the table. On the other hand, I recently escorted a friend with a gambling problem to a casino and watched as he filled out a self-exclusion form.
There are all sorts of addicts. If you are concerned about addiction ruining lives and that is your cause, then I suggest that you support your local "twelve step" organizations. The fact that there are addicts who use a product does not mean that the product is evil.
But you've probably also seen extremely drunk, clearly incapacitated patrons that the casino happily dealt to.
Yes. I have seen this. Drunk, yes. So intoxicated that judgment is diminished to the point of violating gaming regulations - just three times that I recall. Two of those times I was playing poker and I asked that the visibly intoxicated drunk be removed from the game. However, other players at the table wanted the drunks to be allowed to continue playing. It was easy money. Talk about despicable behavior!
Maybe you've witnessed a guy getting backroomed for counting.
Yes, me. (Though it was for hole-carding.)
I personally had to go to court when a casino got two security guards to perjure themselves and say they'd trespassed me when in fact they had done nothing of the sort (I won).
There are millions of interactions between casino patrons and casino police/security each year. Often the patrons in casinos are drunk, rowdy partiers who are not concerned with public safety. There are heated arguments between patrons, patrons threatening other patrons or staff, weapons being wielded by patrons, petty theft, vandalism and more serious crimes like rape and assault. Casino security and police deal with this kind of thing every day of the year. Yet, at the end of the year, there are just a handful of cases where some rogue casino cops went overboard and violated some patron's civil rights. You have received the benefits of casino police and security countless times, you just don't know it.
There are police forces and security officers in all walks of life with all levels of skill and training. The vast majority of these people are professionals who go about their business day after day without incident. I am grateful for police and security everywhere. But some of these people are rogues. Just like everywhere else in our society, sometimes the rogues are held accountable and sometimes they get away with it.
If you want to get information about incidents of police violating the civil rights of law-abiding citizens in all walks of life, just turn on the news. If you want to use the argument that casino police/security is out of control and not held accountable, then you should consider volunteering for the National Police Accountability Project.
In the next paragraph, you wrote,
Not enough? Caesars borrowed billions of dollars that they cannot pay back, and then did its level best to stiff its creditors by fraudulently transferring assets out of their reach. A bankruptcy examiner is investigating those transactions now. With any luck Loveman, Black and crew will be held personally liable for violations of fiduciary duty.
As for exactly what Caesars did, it's more complicated than you make it and I don't know enough of the details to be able to cast blanket assertions. But, even so, there is nothing special about Caesars with respect to this type of behavior. This happens all the times to companies of all sizes and in all sorts of ventures. It even happens to entire governments and countries (most recently, Greece). Incompetent and/or malicious management runs a good company into the ground, hurting its employees and shareholders -- a story as old as business itself. I can't see anything special about the casino industry here.
If you want to use this argument against the casino industry, then your real target should be to wage a war against corporate America and how it dehumanizes individuals for a profit.
In your last paragraph, you wrote,
These are not good people. Their “business model” amounts to duping those who can’t afford it out of their money. It would be illegal in many countries. I am not saying it should be here – I am no defender of the nanny state. But for heaven’s sake, you don’t have to help them!
I will respond to this paragraph point-by-point.
These are not good people.
Some people in the casino industry are not good people. Some people in the Catholic Church are not good people. Some people in professional sports are not good people. Some people in the U.S. Senate are not good people.
Often AP's say that ALL people in the casino industry are evil. Hence the word "these" was used in its inclusive form in your statement above. Even the waitress in the buffet and the valet parking cars are considered "not good people" by some APs. This is extraordinarily dangerous thinking.
Anytime a group affirms a "we are good, they are not good" stance against an entire class of people, the seeds of bigotry and hatred are planted. That is the real evil going on here.
Their "business model" amounts to duping those who can't afford it out of their money.
The casino business model is to offer games of chance as one part of an entertainment experience that also includes food, shopping and shows. As for "duping," everyone I know who gambles as a civilian expects to lose. There is no self-deception. Players know the odds are stacked against them. As for those who can't afford it, there are shopaholics, but I don't see you calling Macy's "not good people." Addicts need help, no matter their addiction.
it would be illegal in many countries.
Yes, gambling is illegal in some countries. So is driving if you're a woman. So is being a homosexual.
I am not saying it should be here - I am no defender of the nanny state. But for heaven's sake, you don't have to help them!
Help them? My industry, the casino industry, is not "them" to me.