Friday Question of the Day – Bad Idea or Worst Idea of All Time?

friday question
Photo by PoPville flickr user Nathan Castellanos

WAMU reported:

“A group funded by an anonymous corporation registered in Delaware is pushing to legalize gambling in the District, first by creating a site in downtown Anacostia where people could play poker, blackjack and other card games and then by licensing other such facilities throughout the city.”

56 Comment

  • Linc Park SE

    There were EXTENSIVE hearings on this in 2003-4 – I had to attended then for work – many good articles written by a guy named Serge Kovaleski at WAPO if you’re up for a google.

  • Nice April Fool’s Day post

  • justinbc

    Joke post or not, we’re already going to be surrounded by them once the MGM opens. If people want to gamble you aren’t going to stop them, so we might as well cash in on some of that revenue for the city itself. Odin knows we could use the extra funding to fix Metro faster.

    • And the roads, and more money for schools, and more equipment for EMS, and the list goes on…

      • west_egg

        The city runs a surplus as it is. Roads and EMS don’t need more money, they need to be managed properly. Schools are another matter altogether, but I can tell you that DC’s per-pupil spending is among the highest in the country.
        The city doesn’t need more revenue; it needs (1) competent management and (2) to start shoveling less of its operating budget towards the mayor’s campaign donors.

    • Because we all know that casinos help the neighborhoods they operate in.

      • There was nothing next to the horseshoe besides greyhound buses, and I don’t think Arundel mills is hurting because of Live. I can’t think of any neighborhood hurt by casinos. Where has it happened?

        • I heard about it on the radio a few days ago — proposed site is in Anacostia. SO I think it’s real.

      • justinbc

        There’s this thing called tax revenue.

        • If you want to raise taxes on the poor and desperate, and often addicted, why not just eliminate food stamps or various tax credits? Gambling to raise tax revenue is pretty inefficient… Too many other people get a cut of the poor mans dollar before it gets to the government.

          And before some guy that wears sunglasses and a visor at the poker table to keep anyone from reading his eyes, points out to me that not all gamblers are poor…. That’s true. But my response to that is, 1.) this isn’t going to be Vegas, these local casinos are sad places they have none of the “glamour” of Las Vegas and none of the beach access of AC. And 2.). No matter how rich someone is, if they gamble enough they won’t be rich for long. Casinos only make casinos rich… The house never loses. Even winners will probably be losers eventually.

          So there are a small minority of people who win, go home, stay winners, don’t gamble too much, just do it for occasional fun… Casinos aren’t trying to open to cater to you. They make their money off the people who can’t stop, won’t stop, gamble too much, too often, and literally can be squeezed like a sponge until nothing else comes out. That’s the reality. They’re in the business of making money and the balance sheet only works in their favor if a shit ton of people spend way more money than anyone can really imagine. It balances out for all the bored old people who spend 6 hours there and drop 15 dollars.

          Maybe this is an April fools joke, but if it’s not already being pushed, it will be one day. Casinos are like the plague. They add nothing to society and cost us, collectively, quite a lot.

        • Wow thanks for explaining it for me in layman’s terms. You’re so insightful.

        • justinbc

          @Anon X, wise governments learned a long time ago that you cannot stop people from making bad decisions, so might as well at least capitalize on them to 1) disincentivize those who can’t afford to make them 2) profit from those who can.

        • west_egg

          The city does not need more revenue, particularly off the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.

  • I’m always torn by gambling initiatives. On the one hand, I like to play cards and have the discretionary income to do so. I also don’t go for the moral opposition, and the effects of pushing it underground aren’t great either.
    That said, I’ve lived in two states as they passed legalization, starting with card rooms and ending with full casinos. In both cases, the end results have left a lot to be desired. Add to that the shady history of previous attempts here in the District, and I’m not so sure I’m comfortable with it. Count me firmly in the undecided camp for now.

  • Ewww, trashy.
    And the Ward 7 and 8 churches will be apoplectic. Though, I can imagine Bowser sees this as a way to get lots of big money donations.

    • That’ll be entertaining. She’ll have to double-down on her pandering efforts to two diametrically opposed special interests. I’m sure she’s up to the task!

  • Yes, because what DC needs is to be more like Atlantic City.

  • Definitely not a joke post – this was reported by WAMU two days ago. My first reaction – great, let’s prey on the folks who can least afford it. How about some development which will actually help serve the community in 7 and 8?

  • NO, NO, NO. Gambling is a scourge and destroys families and many people’s lives. Keep it away.

    • Right. It’s a vice. Alluring and it pulls you down. Brings crime with it, too. Let’s face it, the people who push these things are driven by a profit motive and are not concerned about the side effects. (Greed being another vice). Like the lottery, like liquor stores, etc.

  • Agreed with AMDC — this is “prey[ing] on the people who can least afford it.”
    It’s bad enough that we already have the lottery, which functions as a regressive tax.

  • andy

    I don’t doubt someone has thought of this before, but I would love if someone offered means-tested gambling. You can’t get in the facility unless you can prove you earn 3 X the local poverty level and are currently employed. Those who can’t show this can go to a board or something to get a card that proves they are self-employed and earn enough to waste money on gambling. Or maybe you means-test it so that people can only play for X percentage of total income or something.

    I know it’s not a perfect idea, but it’s a thought. I play poker with friends and the way I play, I would blow about 20 times what I lose in a night at home at a real casino. If that was enough to hurt my household, it should be barred. Gambling takes advantages of failures of rationality and brain behavior, so we need to have bumpers installed.

    • I get where you’re coming from, but isn’t that horrible nannying of adults? I worry about the regressive nature of it, and am undecided on it overall, but I don’t think we can do means-tested gambling.

    • Something like that would be decried as discriminatory more quickly than you could implement it.

    • Nanny state much? That would weed out a lot of retirees who otherwise wouldn’t be doing much with their time and are perfectly happy spending their social security check on the slot machines. Casinos by virtue should be open to all adults

    • This isn’t impossible..

      Require casinos to only accept lines of credit underwritten by them. And, as a requirement of being approved for these lines of credit write rules saying that you can’t be more than 60 days delinquent on any debt, have to have a credit score of xxx, and have to provide proof of employment. Your credit limit can’t exceed the $ amount you can verify is cash on hand/liquid asset solely held in your name and it must be settled before leaving the casino.

      I think this could all be accomplished with one new statute and amendments to existing federal banking laws. If I can’t buy a house that’s 10 times my income, I shouldn’t be able to gamble away that much.

      • Vegas would go bankrupt if you required a credit score to gamble. Those casinos make bank off of high rolling foreign gamblers why by nature of their non-residency would not have a credit score.

  • Anybody walked into a corner store with a “horse racing” game, lately? DC Lottery already has casinos in every block up here in Petworth. They sell chips and soda and fake weed, too.

  • My home state legalized gambling to help generate funds for highways, schools etc. 10 yrs later roads and schools are in worse shape than ever. I’m not optimistic that this city’s leaders would use the funds appropriately.

  • Put me in the undecided camp. I’m part Native, and we have a casino on the res back home. It’s been fantastic for the tribe since the elders have been really forward thinking in how they’ve spent the proceeds (thanks for the scholarship!) and everyone who wants a job in that small town has one. The tribe even had enough money to buy some sacred land and hold it in a trust so it can’t be developed. But the environment here is so different – I don’t know if it’ll work the same way in an urban area, and you can’t control the crime the same way you can on the res (NOTE – do not EVER mess with tribal police). In a city where crime is already such an issue, I’m not sure if this is the right way to do it.

    • It really can be a financial boon if used correctly. But that’s a big IF. So glad to hear that your tribe has been successful with it–that’s awesome. It’s hard to tell if it would be incorporated successfully in DC.

    • The difference is that the tribal elders are good stewards of the funds generated. I can guarantee that we don’t have the same level of responsibility from our civic leaders. The money generated will not go back into the communities in Wards 7 and 8.

      • Plus I don’t get the impression that the casino in question would even be operated by the D.C. government — sounds like it’d be a private company. The group pushing for it is ““[a] group funded by an anonymous corporation registered in Delaware.”

  • goaldigger

    Sigh, I hate the pearl clutching when casino’s are proposed. The new MGM at National Harbor is going to employ a lot of people (I’ve seen mentioned like 4,000 people and I am assuming a lot of union jobs). Aren’t jobs with benefits something that people in Ward 7 and 8 need?

    • So the yardstick is if it brings in jobs, it’s okay? Horrible. Why not legalize prostitution. Put a racetrack on the Mall. Who cares what lives in ruins, or how much wealth is siphons off the poor? Why bother having laws at all?

      • We should absolutely legalize prostitution. Not sure how many jobs it’ll bring in, but it’ll be a big help to getting all those trafficked people some help.
        Just because some people make poor life choices doesn’t mean an entire project should be stymied.

      • Yes, prostitution should be legalized as it is in many progressive countries. A racetrack would be fine too, though for obvious reasons the Mall would be a horrible choice of location. There used to be one up in Ivy City – probably not enough room now with all the development coming in, but maybe there’s room further out near Fort Lincoln.

        • Child labor? Slavery? At what limit will your conscience be struck? :^0

          • Crazy idea – let consenting adults do what they want to do with their bodies, time and money. It’s a novel concept called freedom. And no, children aren’t consenting adults so your absurd straw man fails.

          • As with many things among consenting adults, legalizing and regulating prostitution would be a moral win because it would make it safer and bring it out of the shadows. If you unclutch your pearls for a second and think about it, you might agree.

  • I don’t really like casinos but I don’t reflexively hate them either. They could bring jobs and money but unless there is more than a single one I am not sure it brings many jobs or many money. In this case with a casino at Arundel Mills and one at the Harbor I can’t imagine will be much more than not much at all. I will say that I do not buy into the brings lots of jobs/brings lots money hype that advocates like to throw out. Sometimes that is true sometimes it isn’t and that is dependent on the place and the how. Personally I just don’t see it bringing much of either jobs or money.

    I remember all the pearl clutching from the religious types when Mississippi talked about gambling decades ago. They ended up with casinos that weren’t on land – somehow not be on land was less immoral? – and Katrina took them all out. But by that point Mississippi one of if not the poorest state of the union had come to rely on the money for education (cause they weren’t spend tax pay dollars for educating) and rewrote the laws so they could be on land. Needless to say the moralizing which much, much less muted. However, in Mississippi there really isn’t/wasn’t much business at all on the Gulf Coast AND there were many casinos and entertainment spots so there was activity that a single venue would offer.

    New Orleans on the other hand only has the 1 (NOLAs history with gambling was so seedy that it left a bad feeling that lasted something like over 100 years). It has never been much of anything – though the city has more to offer. People thought it would be a “natural” fit but it seems to leave almost no impression.

  • Let’s not kid ourselves that even if DC proceeded to legalize gambling that the whole process from start to finish would be transparent. Good luck trying to figure out who is behind that anonymous Delaware corporation.

  • The comparison to Arundel Mills and National Harbor is not apt. Those are both located in exurban no man’s land. Sticking a casino in the heart of DC’s poorest neighborhoods and controlled by an opaque entity is a recipe for disaster. They will promise the world to Wards 7 and 8 but I doubt even 3% of the profits will be put back into helping the immediate community. Put the casino in Wards 3 or 4 and then we can talk.

    • HaileUnlikely

      I agree with this. In the abstract, I don’t much care one way or the other. I wouldn’t go there, but I don’t object to its existence. However, I fear that this is basically a greedy businessman from out of town who will use this community to enrich himself and be a crappy neighbor.

    • theyre in exurban Nomansland? You must be thinking of Charlestown. Either that or you’re hopelessly myopic and provincial.

  • We don’t have enough land in DC to waste it on nonsense like casinos, which don’t help jurisdictions nearly as much as they claim. Dropping a casino in a ward that has staggering unemployment and poverty rates would also be just plain cruel.

  • Casinos, outside of LV and AC, don’t “bring money” anywhere. They just shift it from one persons pocket to another. It’s a simple redistribution that is generally regressive. So please stop saying how much money it will bring. The money is already here, people will just be spending it on casinos and not something else. It’s not the federal reserve and its adding money to the system…

    • “They just shift it from one persons pocket to another.”

      That’s the definition of all commerce, not just gambling.

  • You think there’s a lot of homeless folks in DC now…

  • This is much ado about nothing. Gambling is prohibited by the D.C. Code and there is no chance whatsoever of that being changed.

  • Ugh.. and in Anacostia of course… No and no.

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