What do you call someone who depends upon gambling winnings to pay their bills? An addict … or in the case of Lakewood … a City Council.
Our City Council is addicted to gambling and has become the willing mouth piece for the gambling industry in a pathological co-dependent relationship. Thus it is with most addictions.
On 15 May 2008, at a Lakewood United forum to discuss the current initiative to ban casino gambling in Lakewood, Chris McManus (a recovered gambling addict) and I supported the current initiative to ban casino gambling in Lakewood, while Council Member Walter Neary and gambling lobbyist Dolores Chiechi, (Recreational Gaming Association of Washington) argued against it. Predictable? You bet! Just follow the money!
Mr. Neary tried to make the case that Lakewood is more “libertarian” politically than “authoritarian” Tacoma, where casino gambling was banned by their City Council and supported in a referendum vote by Tacoma citizens. In his homily, Walter compared the difference in leash laws for dogs nearly 100 years ago. Tacoma had leash laws back then, while “live and let live” Lakewood let dogs run loose. Sorry Walter, but this is 2008 and Lakewood has leash laws too.
This is not about dogs running loose, or “libertarianism” but the presence of a pernicious business from whom Mr. Neary and other council members took campaign contributions and whose best interests they now serve; not the interests of the citizens who elected them. Time to take a stand Mr. Neary!
Ms. Chiechi predictably spouted a series of “facts” designed to set gambling in the best light (touted tax revenue, support for communities, jobs, low crime statistics, etc.) while carefully ignoring its negative social impacts. However, she can’t avoid the fact that even her organization’s name, “Recreational Gaming Association,” hides from its real purpose: gambling.
“Recreational Gaming?” Sounds kind of innocuous like Little League or Youth Soccer, doesn’t it? It would be more truthful to call it what it really is: “The Addictive Gambling Association.” The truth came out when she had to admit that her gambling association seeks to add 19,000 slot machines to Washington so its members can “even the playing field” with Indian casinos … as if we don’t have enough gambling and the misery it brings already.
Chris McManus gave a first person look into his gambling addiction and how it has negatively affected his life. Perhaps the most “not-so-obvious” part of his presentation was his assertion that most people who leave the casino are dissatisfied losers, not joyous winners as is often shown in deceptive gambling advertisements. Mathematically it has to be that way or casinos would go out of business. The longer you play the more you lose.
What other business in Lakewood could have so many dissatisfied customers leaving with empty wallets and nothing to show for it, and that business be allowed, even encouraged by City Council to continue to “sell their wares?” Not one other, I would suspect. Since when is losing money recreational?
Over my years on City Council I have listened to the arguments for gambling and realized that just as in a stud poker game, the gambling industry is betting on the cards shown face up while the real arguments against gambling are held face down from view. This deception, amounting to a bluff, has buffaloed our Council members and many citizens into parroting what the gambling industry wants them to say. They have become part of the problem and until they realize they have “been had” will never be part of the solution.
In the next several emails I will discuss the 12 Gambling Myths perpetrated by the gambling industry and their accomplices in City Council. Buying into these gambling myths is a sucker’s bet, be you an individual or a city government.
If you’d like to learn more about the impact gambling has on Lakewood and become part of the solution, I’d invite you to go to www.SaveLakewood.com. Find out how you can help bring the current initiative to ban casino gambling to a vote of the people. Time is short for signature gathering (4 July 2008) and we must have enough signatures (about 5,000) to qualify the initiative for the ballot.
Your help is vital! You can make a difference! Direct government via the initiative process when government fails to act: a clear winner for Lakewood voters! Petitions for your signatures can be downloaded from www.SaveLakewood.com.
One more thing. If you believe that the people of Lakewood should not have to support the gambling industry in our community, send your council members an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Past Council member and Deputy Mayor
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