Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Thursday, June 09, 2005

On a warm summer’s evening, on a train bound for nowhere

It appears Baldacci will veto the Washington County racino legislation unless it is sent to voters as a referendum or some other compromise is reached. There don't seem to be enough pro-slots votes in the Senate to override a veto.

I can't understand how anyone could argue that a slot machine parlor is legitimate development anywhere in the state. I've visited a Casino a few times (I think I'm up $40 overall) and there's a feeling about them that can't be described in words. If you go at night, alcohol has left its mark and the place is full of happy, inebriated weekend gamblers and tourists entranced by the pretty lights and spinning wheels. If you go in the day, however, the sound effects seem gratingly loud and the corridors of slot machines are haunted by sadder, more focused folk. These aren't tourists, these are local gambling addicts, the source of the vast majority of Casino revenue.

We've already heard the statistics during the Casino referendum vote; slots won't bring money and jobs to Washington County, they will suck the region dry. Lottery sales there are already the highest in the state due to the county's poverty rate and a racino will find a base of gamblers ready to go bankrupt to improve the bottom line of an out-of-state corporation. The costs of treating addiction and dealing with increased crime and bankruptcy will be trumped only by the human costs of child abuse, domestic violence and suicide.

The only reason I can see for supporting such legislation is a belief that tribal sovereignty should trump all other concerns. I, obviously, don't agree.

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I work at a psychiatric inpatient facility, and I do some time on an outreach program for people living in the community who have severe and persistent mental illnesses. I have to say, I was never very anti gambling until I saw the people who's lives it was destroying.

Gambling is an addiction, it is time that people fully admitted this. People who are gambling addicts cannot be expected to simply ignore the VLTs anymore than you can tell someone who is a heroin addict to ignore their drug dealer. The struggle that addicts go through (who are often people who also deal with mental illness) is long and hard. It is a road that no one can take for them, but we try to help as best we can.

While I understand that gambling can be fun for those of us who are able to go in moderation. We have a responsibility to our fellow human beings on this planet to help. The social cost of VLTs is far greater than the income that they provide. Money that is profited from casinos does not come close to the social cost, or the financial cost that our overcrowded hospitals pick up.

Posted by Muffin

6/09/2005 07:34:00 AM


“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
- Herman Melville

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10/04/2005 03:35:00 PM



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