Press Reactions

San Diego Union-Tribune
By John Freeman

"Produced in PBS' typically muted but effective style, tonight's edition of FRONTLINE -TV's finest documentary series, by far- profiles legalized gambling in America, devoting much attention to California. In gambling lingo, it hits the jackpot."

"...As FRONTLINE points out, the issue of whether Americans should gamble doesn't seem to matter anymore. Because many Americans will gamble -in some cases with the enthusiastic approval of the government."

Detroit News
By Michael McWilliams

"It's a one-hour FRONTLINE cautionary tale about the evils of gambling, complete with ominous music, heavy handed narration, wicked politicians, conniving lobbyists and blackjack players in states of despair."

"...To bolster its case against green firewater, Easy Money interviews everybody from Frank 'Lefty' Rosenthal -Robert De Niro's character in Casino - who notes how gamblers can lose control, to a Methodist minister who successfully fought 'snake oil' spilling into his town.

Cutting through the rhetoric is the jolly, old broad at a slot machine: 'It's pleasurable.'"

St. Louis Post Dispatch
By Gail Pennington

"Although Easy Money is billed as an examination of 'the explosive growth of gambling in America in the last five years,' the hour is primarily devoted to the case of California where problems involving gambling are unlike those in any other state.

After an obligatory look at Las Vegas, Easy Money visits the small town of Pittsburgh, Calif., where some residents are fighting the construction of a casino. Then it plunges deeply into the fight by competing lobbyists over regulating California's legal 'card rooms,' which look like casinos minus the slot machines.

All this isn't uninteresting, but it sheds far more light on the politics of lobbying than on the 'new era of gambling.'

The New York Times
By Walter Goodman

"Like a casino novice who can't choose between the allure of the slots and of the roulette table, Easy Money spends time gawking before settling down to its real business, the unwholesome relationship between gambling and government."

"...The sharpest of the reporting here, done in conjunction with Mother Jones magazine, is on five years of failure to regulate California's card rooms, described by one critic as invitations to money-laundering and loan sharking."

"...Easy Money leaves the suspicion that when it comes to gambling, the last thing our representatives want is an informed electorate."

New York Daily News
By Eric Mink

"Hot news or not, PBS' FRONTLINE does an admirable job of laying out and explaining the connections between gambling, big business and government in almost every corner of the country.

The report, titled Easy Money is a co-production of FRONTLINE and Mother Jones magazine, with veteran Martin Koughan serving as producer.

Over the course of the hour, Easy Money hits us with a mind-numbing barrage of mind-numbing statistics."

"...Alas, the weakest segments of Easy Money are those that attempt to address the ills and evils of legalized gambling. And in describing how gambling revenues have dramatically improved the lives of California's Viejas Indian Tribe, the report actually undermines its clearly anti-gambling point of view."

The Globe & Mail (Toronto)
By John Haslett Cuff

"Like an equally excellent, earlier documentary that was broadcast on CBC's Witness this year, Easy Money exposes the immoral collusion between pro-business, revenue-hungry governments and the gambling industry, which is increasingly controlled by the same institutions who control the rest of the U.S. and Canadian economy. Since Wall Street and the White House (along with MGM and ITT) have given gambling the thumbs up, and long impoverished Indians are getting rich with casinos, how can it be wrong?

But the documentary's attention is not about the morality of gambling, but the unholy union of politicians and gambling industry folk that is subverting the democratic process. "

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