As I mentioned in the Democrat case against Issue 6, there are some Republican politicians pushing this ballot issue from the shadows. Don’t be deceived by announcement that the Ohio Republican Party is officially against Issue 6. There are a number of decent Republicans within the party, but there are those that have sold their soul as well. Jill Miller Zimon of WLST outed one of the Republican backers: Jim Trakas. There are others, I am sure, but they are engaged in a stealth campaign that, according to polls, seems to be working, as the poll numbers I’ve heard show 50% in favor of Issue 6, 41% against Issue 6, and 9% undecided. The Ohio GOP is officially against Issue 6 largely due to the political clout of U.S. Senator George Voinovich (video link in this blog entry), who has never sold out or caved in on casino issues.
And why does a Republican who stands on a principle rather than takes bribes from a casino owner, like George Voinovich, oppose gambling? There are many, many reasons, and Jill Miller Zimon, though a Democrat, has compiled many, many reasons that I’m sure Senator Voinovich would agree with. Perhaps the best way to sum those reasons up is the adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
There are tremendous costs associated with gambling.
I’ve already written at length about the opportunity costs of gambling and how it contracts the economy as money is siphoned out of it. The cure for the souring economy becomes so much more expensive when you’ve got leaks in it.
As JMZ noted in this post, gambling is destructive of self, family, and community. The cure for self and family is expensive when one considers the lack of mental health parity among health insurance policies, never mind the fact that health coverage is blasted expensive even if there was parity. The cure for family and community is expensive, as government often feels compelled to institute programs to combat the fallout. That means tax dollars. The tax dollar revenues from casinos in no way compensate for families that have been stripped of their resources by gambling and communities of declining property values where gambling has eaten up money that could have been used to keep up with rent, mortgage, utility payments or home improvements. School districts, like Detroit’s, who get an influx of money from casinos don’t get enough to improve the academic achievements of students who come from homes broken by gambling. More money isn’t fixing the worsening problem.
So for fiscal conservatives, prevention is key because the cure is unaffordable.
For social conservatives, the damage inflicted upon oneself, one’s family, and the rest of society by gambling away scarce resources is evident. Unlike the libertarian viewpoint that, in advocating for maximization of individual liberty, only the damage to self is fully recognized, social conservatives are aware that gambling has more victims than just those who chose to gamble. Curtailing gambling curtails the number of gambling’s victims, whether direct or indirect. For many social conservatives, religious convictions might also play a role in deciding against gambling.
Then there is the issue of law and order. Casinos are situated on the borderline between the black market and the above-ground economy. Transparency may exist in other economic sectors and in government, but casinos are perpetually shrouded in shadow. Casinos are the perfect venues for laundering money. Law enforcement officials recognize they just don’t have the tools to unlock the secrets of the illegal activities that take place in casinos. Intuitively, they may sense that money is being laundered, but there’s little they can do to penetrate the darkness. The Fraternal Order of Police and other law enforcement organizations have routinely opposed casino ballot issues, and Issue 6 is not an exception to that rule. As the push for transparency in government and commerce heightens, the demand for casinos increases, as criminals have fewer and fewer options for laundering their money out of plain sight. If casinos were illegal everywhere, more criminal activity would be forced out into the open where it could be interdicted more effectively. The above-ground economy would benefit, too, as the underground economy has less power to erode the above-ground economy. Combined with greater transparency, a stable environment for economic growth accompanies law and order.
Finally, there is the recognition that casinos do not create wealth. There is no production of goods or exchange of goods that occurs at a casino. There is only a redistribution of wealth from the many gamblers to the few casino owners, with the gambler having received no value whatsoever for the money lost.