The media is usually pretty brutal to the casino industry. To be fair, it depends on what outlet you happen to be reading or watching, but it is hard to argue with the facts. Case in point – the following article from a Pennsylvania newspaper.
Here is the opening line: “We’ve all heard those radio ads from the Pennsylvania casino industry urging gamblers to get help if they have a problem. Well, consider this following crime story to be a more forceful cautionary tale than any public relations campaign from the gambling industry”
The newspaper is located in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, a bastion of liberal and progressive ideas. Sarcasm aside, this area is like much of Pennsylvania – conservative. The city is betwixt Pittsburg and Philadelphia in the south central part of the state and you have to travel a ways to get to a casino. This should not surprise you.
First, how can the gambling industry be portrayed in a negative context in a state that is filled with profit from gambling leading the financial way in the North Central part of the country? Here is an example of how people choose to be blind to the fact that they get their cut of the state budget, in part which is derived from casinos taxes and profits.
Second, I was not aware individual casinos had public relations campaigns that were responsible for the actions of every single person who choose to play at a casino. To suggest that only the law abiding go to casinos is silly, while at the same time the article suggests that the mere presence of casinos adds to the problems of gambling addiction and crime. For the anti-gambling advocates you could not have picked a better story.
This connection of casinos and crime has been making the rounds in the news more recently. While there does seem to be a general increase in casino crime, many reasons are possible. But casinos are businesses and any business that is connected to less than reputable business activities – consider Enron and Bernie Madoff Investments – will soon be out of business. Come ot think of it, these two examples are all about accounting and money. The thieves were on the inside and allowed to continue unchecked. Casinos are always viewed with a skeptical eye, sometimes by their own players.
There is a question I want to pose to all involved. Where does the fact that people need to take responsibility for their own lives come into play?
If I am an alcoholic and continue to buy liquor that is my legal right even if I do have a drinking problem. There is not much clamor being made about obliterating the liquor industry. No one blames the liquor industry for not doing enough to keep people from drinking. Or is it drinking too much? Or is it avoiding the genetic predisposition to alcoholism. Those issues seem to be left to medical science, the government, or – the individual.
In today’s Information Age, people will always be able to find news and facts that support their own point of view. This is true of casino advocates like me as well as the anti-gambling groups. But if there are any instances of suggesting that anti-gambling advocates are directly connected to crime or criminal actions in any way, they are hard to find. The reason is that gamblers just want to enjoy their money the way they choose. This article, and others like it, point to the casino, not the person, as the problem.
The question to be asked is what these anti-gambling media outlets propose to accomplish with their skewed views. They enjoy the benefits of the revenues casinos bring in, and in a state such as Pennsylvania where so many people are playing at the casinos and participating in state lotteries, it will not likely start a movement to stop gambling in the state. But people who do not gamble are led astray by these types of stories which amounts to Yellow Journalism.
Newspapers and media outlets have a responsibility to inform the public, not slant the news to promote a particular agenda. But that is being naive, because that seems to be what the news has devolved into – a forum for promoting political agendas regardless of party affiliation. And who said that casino construction was not a political animal? Certainly no one with any knowledge of the industry… The facts? They are less likely to be had than getting dealt a royal flush.