When Bad Ideas Fly—II
The 139-word Bloomberg News release—that Pinnacle Entertainment is selling shares for casino funding—ends on a sour note. Pinnacle lost out in its bid for a slot machine parlor in Philadelphia to the proprietors of the largest casino complex in the world, Foxwoods, which is owned and operated by Connecticut’s Mashantucket Pequot tribe.
The new Foxwoods Casino—slot machines only—that won the license, will be sited on the west bank of the Delaware River, roughly 1-1/2 miles from our 1817 row house in South Philadelphia.
My neighbor, novelist-actor Steve Zettler, wrote a letter to The Philadelphia Inquirer that oozed sanctimony. “It goes beyond the obvious detriments of traffic, crime, prostitution and all-night annoyances,” Zettler wrote. “Gambling is a vice, and slot machines suck money from those who can least afford to lose it. I, for one, would rather pay more taxes than see our city and state stoop this low.”
C’mon, Steve, playing the slots is a lifestyle choice, just as is shelling out hundreds of dollars a month for usurious credit card interest payments.
This is a case of “Not-in-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY),” not an argument for social change.
It’s also the stupidest business decision made by Native Americans since the Lenapes sold Manhattan Island to Peter Minuet for $24 worth of cloth and buttons on May 24, 1626.
The only people dumber than the Mashantucket Pequots are the Philadelphia investors and politicians that allowed it to happen.
So what else is new?
Gamblers want action—and lots of it. With the advent of casino gambling around the country—in Atlantic City, on riverboats in the South and Midwest, and on Native American reservations everywhere—horse players began to lose interest in improving the breed. They headed for venues where they could place 10 bets a minute rather than 10 bets a day. Attendance fell at racetracks. This translated into lower handles (gross dollars bet), smaller purses and less tax revenues.