May 20, 2013

Another View: Pro-gambling column ignores social cost of gaming expansion

Barney Frank inconsistently favors regulating predatory lenders, but not predatory casinos.

By Dennis Bailey

Along with feeling relieved that he is no longer in a position of responsibility, I was perplexed by former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank's muddled defense of casino gambling ("On gambling, liberals prefer limits," May 12).

For the author of legislation aimed at protecting unsuspecting consumers from predatory lending to suggest that liberals are wrong to support similar restrictions on Las Vegas gambling casinos is contradictory.

Apparently, Frank thinks Wall Street investors are too stupid to make decisions regarding their own money without government swaddling, but the average casino patron is on his own. In fact, Wall Street's predatory practices have much in common with the gambling industry's, except one of them is highly regulated and the other isn't.

Frank has long favored transparency and disclosure in consumer lending, so why wouldn't he want the same for the gambling industry? As it is, casinos aren't even required to disclose the odds of winning the jackpot on their slot machines.

In his column, Frank confessed that he's "not an expert on Republican primary dynamics." He's also no expert on the predatory technology of the modern slot machine.

I would suggest he read "Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas," by fellow Massachusetts resident and MIT professor Natasha Dow Schull, and see if he still feels that government should turn a blind eye to the many individuals, families and businesses that are destroyed by an industry that produces no product or lasting economic benefits.

Gambling casinos are a scam, a complete con job, and I don't know any true liberal who defends shell games and dishonesty. Perhaps Frank should take a cue from fellow liberal Ralph Nader, who sees no philosophical contradiction in opposing corporate casino gambling: "No society is on the rise when gambling is on the rise. It shows a society in decay."

Dennis Bailey of South Freeport has led anti-gambling campaigns with the group Casinos No!


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