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Casinos are an education issue -- and not because of funding

By Debbie Wei on Apr 10, 2009 09:03 AM
Photo: Dr. Joan May T. Cordova from www.aaunited.org

I am ashamed to admit I did not join the fight against casinos until a location on the front steps of Chinatown was proposed. Either location for Foxwoods at this point threatens the community – the Gallery site is 50 feet from the nearest resident, the Strawbridge’s site is less than 200 feet from one of our daycare centers. But now that I’ve learned more, my passion against the casino plan is fueled by much more than the threat to my community.

Those of us involved with education need to take note, especially because education funding is being touted as one of the beneficiaries of the current administration’s drive to force this down our throats.

 Why should we as people who care about kids and schools care about casinos? In 1976, there were only two states in the country that allowed gambling – Nevada and New Jersey. Now, there are only two states that don’t. It is no coincidence that gambling addiction among youth in particular has grown exponentially. Consider this article from of all places, USA today:

Among the article’s highlights, or lowlights:

A recent statewide study in Indiana found that more than 35% of sixth-graders and 55% of 12th-graders had done some type of gambling in the past year.

….Prevention specialists in Oregon are trying to mesh a gambling-prevention program into programs for alcohol and drug abuse, says Julie Hynes of the Lane County Health and Human Services Department. “We've been wanting to do this for a while, as we've seen access to gambling grow,” Hynes says.

PBS’ Frontline also recognized that the “normalization” of gambling has led to increased pathological addiction – especially among youth.

An excerpt:

Experts on pathological gambling have shown that the prevalence of this disorder is linked closely to the accessibility and acceptability of gambling in society.…As more people try gambling in its various forms, however, more of those prone to the illness are exposed. So, the more legalized gambling a state makes available, the more pathological behavior is triggered. Fast-paced gambling, which maximizes the number of wagering opportunities (like casinos and video gambling machines), also maximizes gambling addiction….In Iowa, the legalization of casinos more than tripled the addiction dilemma.

 And we should not be so naïve as to think the casinos care about our youth and have adequate protections in place. Frontline reports:

Despite laws in Atlantic City restricting casino gambling to people 21 or older, a survey of teenagers at Atlantic City High School revealed that not only had 64% gambled in a local casino, but 40% had done so before the age of 14.

As I write this, a courageous band of fighters, including tireless fellow blogger Helen Gym, are riding a bus to Harrisburg to try and voice their concerns. They know what they are up against. The governor, the mayor, city council, the state legislature, and a well-moneyed, well-connected, and notoriously corrupt industry. (Ummm…I know it’s confusing, but the corrupt industry I’m referring to is the casino lobby, not the legislature…)

I’m committed to drawing a line in the sand not only for my community, but for the children and families I serve. Those of us in education need to speak up loudly, because we’re being asked to be grateful for this blood money. For more on this subject, check out Helen’s other blog at Young Philly Politics.

 

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Comments (3)

Submitted by Paul Boni (not verified) on April 11, 2009 4:39 pm

Thank you for this thoughtful column.

At present, the Governor is poised to introduce his Video Poker initiative that would put electronic gambling machines in every bar and tavern in the Commonwealth. Given the number of liquor licenses in our City, that would mean thousands of machines for Philadelphia, to be located in every single community and neighborhood.

The revenue would go to help pay for college tuition, which of course is a noble cause. Let's hope that those in favor of funding education realize that this is not the right way to go about it.

I hope Philadelphians call upon their State Senators and State Representatives to defeat this initiative.

Thank you again for this great column.

Submitted by Kuba Walenty (not verified) on June 6, 2011 1:10 am

Good thinking Paul! It may be ok if casino is played only in the internet. I don't think poker, ruletka online and other casino games would be a great deal for kids and our youngsters. But for the casino to be organize in a town, that would really cause a problem. Parent should somehow guard their children in their young age. There's always some drawback on things that are too much.

Submitted by Helen (not verified) on July 4, 2014 2:28 am
Casinos being banned in some areas is the latest highlighted news because most of the economical values coming from casinos that ultimately effects our financial system in a positive way. This is the issue given by the people from various source who are thinking that all the issues and cases happening due to the complain of the general people that this culture destroying their society and environment. Bus still some provisions going on to provide the best service. Casino Themed Decor For Parties New York City

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