Regarding your program about casinos and other gambling establishments, I
wanted to say that I feel it really is up to each person to control his or
her own behavior. I realize some people have addictions to certain
activities; however, if you can't afford to gamble, stay at home! There
does seem to be some data that support the claim that crime increases
whenever gaming is established in a community. However, I maintain that,
especially in smaller communities, crime would increase with any new
industry, whether it is gambling or a new Disney theme park! I'll bet a
button that Anaheim had much less crime prior to Disneyland being built than
it does now. Crime is like poverty--it's here to stay. Only individuals
can change their behavior--society has no way to do that. Obviously,
rehabilitation does not work, so people have to be responsible for their own
Gaming provides jobs and, especially in the case of the Indian Nations,
truly helps those who would otherwise be impoverished. As long as it is
controlled through adequate legislation in each state, gaming should survive.
Thanks for your attention.
I'm glad that someone finally explores the linkage between Casino industry and money
politics in this country.
Until Congress passes a comprehensive campaign finance reform bill, the influence of
money, especially from the gambling industry which historically has ties to the
organized crime groups, will always wield strong influence on the integrity of the
political system in this country.
I just watched your show on Gaming. It was good, except you did not mention a few
things that I have heard about from other sources.
You did not mention that many people in Atlantic City are still poor and live within
the shadows of the casinos. The schools are still inadequate. People from New York
and other states bring their money in but it does not go anywhere but the casinos'
vaults at the bank.
You also did not mention the number of people that become addicts and pawn their
possessions such as wedding rings and TV sets to support their habits, just like a
What about the crime rate? Has it gone up or down in places with gaming?
I am very happy that Native Americans are making money this way, but aren't they
also losing some of their culture? One
man said that the old ways were being lost, well why doesn't he use that money to
bring back the old ways and teach them to the tribe's children? After five hundred
years of having the white man and his government destroy their culture, they found
a way to beat the white man at his own game.
Thanks for letting me express my views,
I want to thank you for the excellent story about gambling. A few
years ago when I lived in Colorado I voted for legalized gambling in the town of
Blackhawk just west of Boulder and Denver. Today I would never vote for something
like that again. I saw the slow decay of that beautiful mountain town and what that
type of business can do! It basically destroyed the spirit of the town. The locals
were driven out by big money, and fast life style in the name of progress.
Closer to home a co-worker of mine hits the Native American casinos on a regular
basis, and has in my opinion nearly bankrupted his family. I realize as Americans
we control our own destiny, but what kind of future are we creating for ourselves?
I get very scared when I hear of all the problems of this country, but I think this
problem needs immediate attention! At the rate we are spending money on the
"Gaming" industry what is going to happen to us when the well runs dry, all this
investment could have been more wisely spent on perhaps educating children against
the evils of gaming.
I am ever grateful to Frontline for uncovering the truth and digging up the dirt on
our so called public representatives. Thank you!
I enjoyed your documentary on gambling. However a few questions I have justifies
If the Lotto, for instance, brings money in for the state; that benefits not only
that state but the people who reside in it.
One of the contributions by the state would be for education.
No one can argue that this country needs to better our schools.
How can the government regulate how the people spend their money?
Everyone that gambles knows the risks of financial trouble, so leave it up to the
person to decide spending their own hard earned money!
If most of the funds collected by the state through lotteries are used for
education, jobs, tax breaks, and other needs for the people and their communities,
then why not allow the legalization of gambling nationally?
Just as I've always suspected: everything is for sale, including the Government.
Money talks, and BIG MONEY talks loudest, especially in our State and Federal
When Governments cannot contain something that was previously outlawed, they
legitimize it and
fancy new legislation, new taxes, and all sorts of promises to improve the
community. If gaming
is any example at all, it should be about 10 years before the Government turns to a
drug trade to raise more tax dollars, make new promises of community improvements
destroy an already crumbling society.
I had no problem with gambling in Las Vegas or Atlantic City. They were
self-contained ADULT playgrounds
that were relatively easy to contain. Putting Casinos within 2 hours of every
American has destroyed the
allure of Vegas and Atlantic City. How long before Disney World opens it's Casinos?
As I see it, there's
not much difference between them anymore, and children can learn to gamble just as
soon as Mom and Dad can
drag them off to Vegas.
I am very interested in your Fact & Stats but I'm somewhat confused about the 40B$
per year industry and the 482 B$ per year legal wagers . Is the 40B$ a net profit?
The 482 B$ is almost twice our defense budget and I don't know the governmental
budgets of other countries but this would be about 1/3 of the US budget. Lets
solve the deficit, social security, Medicare, education and any other problems by
letting the gamblers pay for it.
William E. Tucker
I thought that the most powerful angle of your story
was the man who played Keno day after day hoping to make
his "big score". He was the very picture of an addict:
unable to stop, or even acknowledge that spending $300 a week
might constitute a problem. His existence seems to be completely
devoid of joy or hope, despite his fantasies about "the
When I take my niece and nephew (ages 5 and 4) to
a restaurant, they almost immediately ask for quarters to
go play the arcade games. Where these games are present,
we can't even get through a meal without some assurance
that, yes, they will be able to play before we leave. Is this
what the proponents of "gaming" stand for? Of all the things
in this country to devote our financial and human resources to, "kindler,
gentler" casinos and gambling should be at the bottom of the
Obviously there is more than 1 sucker born each minute to sustain the current level
of "government sponsored extortion". All around us are the signs of a society in
decline. Gaming is putting a gun to the Nation's head and cocking the trigger.
Mr. Chris Gartner
Your program was thorough - only one aspect was omitted. Another
reason why public officials are eager to accept gambling is that
citizens want public services but do want to pay for them. Woe to the
politician who does not support airport and road maintenance, computers
for our schools, monitoring of the nursing homes our parents utilize,
the latest equipment for the military and college loans - and woe to the
politician who proposes taxes for these purposes. Gambling promoters
know this all too well.
As a resident of Las Vegas, and a proponent of legalized gaming, I was compelled to
watch "Easy Money". It's always interesting to see how Las Vegas will play on a
Please allow me to present a simple- yet radical- viewpoint.
The key to living in a city that allows gaming is Self-Discipline. And it's NOT hard
to come by.
Typically, when newcomers arrive in Las Vegas, they get sucked into the "heat" you
referred to in "Easy Money."
I know this because I felt it myself, blowing a rent check I really didn't have.
But most residents, including myself, wake up soon after that first big loss and
realize that gaming really IS entertainment.
It doesn't take long before you see how your money is paying for all those pretty
So here's what I do now:
When I want to play blackjack, I think of it as ENTERTAINMENT.
I take out $40, leave my credit cards at home, and see how long I can play until the
money runs out.
I'm not out to WIN, I'm just playing to PLAY. And when the money runs out- I simply
Most Las Vegans look at gaming this way. If we don't, we aren't here long.
When it's all said and done, living in a city with gaming forces us to develop
Once gaming becomes ENTERTAINMENT in the eyes of the masses, and NOT a way to win
"Easy Money", America will learn to appreciate all the wonderful things casinos
have to offer.
Once you achieve Self-Discipline while living in Las Vegas, you know nothing can
touch you- or your bank account.
I appreciated your program. We live 3 hours from Laughlin, NV
and travel there 1-2 times a year because it offers us an extremely
cheap vacation. We usually bring $20 or less to gamble and typically
bring home very little of it. (Although last summer I won $40 on
quarter slots on my second quarter and decided to quit very early).
I have seen personally what an addiction to gambling has caused in the
lives of my in-laws relatives, and your program made me think about the
$20 I am contributing to the casino enterprise. After reading many of
your pro/con articles, I have decided to discontinue this practice.
The buffets are certainly inexpensive and great from that standpoint,
but I can no longer support an enterprise that preys on the weakest
members of our society.
What really bothers me is the rhetoric that states like Arizona develop
to support the lottery and powerball, but when it comes time to pay the
true price for these activities in welfare checks, they aren't nearly
Finally, shame on the US Department of Justice for holding on to the seized
casino partnership for so long. It is becoming clearer to me why so many of my
peers are disenfranchised with the government in general.
Thank you for helping to educate me on this issue.
Know the bible, know history, know mythology.
Know that gambling is in the nature of all
humanity...but it misses the point of this
"Frontline." As a manager of several political campaigns,
local and congressional, we must realize that
we are all charmed by the money. We can easily rationalize our principles and
appreciate almost any point of view if the money is right. I've
witnessed it, with the best of people. Am I
still their advocates? No, but I know what
There is a lot of talk about whether gambling should or should not be legalized.
Let's look at a few facts, both pro and con. First, the pro side, as casinos are
built in the various states, jobs increase. It takes a lot of people to run a
gaming concern and the people that will ultimately work in these casinos come from
the surrounding community. Second, an increase in the work force and the money
handled by these casinos means that there is an increase in state, county, and city
revenue. This money can be put into a larger better equipped law enforcement
agencies. It can also be used to improve the equipment and programs that the
schools offer to the children of this area. Finally, this money can also be put to
work providing meals, care and excursions for the elderly. People say that crime
will increase with the opening of a casino. This is probably true, but the crime
is muggings, robberies and the like. I am by no means trying to minimize these
crimes, but there Is other criminal activity out there that needs to be stopped, such as drugs. The
money generated by these casinos can be used to increase and better equip the law
enforcement agencies in our communities so that they can better fight this crime.
Now for the con side of the argument. We, as people, want something for nothing.
That is why we sink billions into casinos, lotteries, sports betting, etc. There
is not one of us out here that can honestly say that at some point in time, we have
not bet on something. Whether it was an office football pool for the super bowl or
our state's lottery, especially if the jackpot was 10, 20, 30 million or more. Yes
some people will bet over their heads and this is sad, but the number of people
that could be harmed is far smaller than the number of people that will be helped.
I think gambling should be legal, but regulated. What is going on in California
with the card rooms and the Indian casinos, should not be allowed to go on. There
needs to be away of monitoring and moderating the play, so that people don't get
fleeced, which I am sure happens, especially in the card rooms. I myself have been
and to a small degree still is a professional gambler. It is how I made my living,
and the living was good. I bet on horse races and played the table games in the
casinos along with a few sports bets.
Thank you for providing a forum for us to air our thoughts and ideas concerning this
matter. Keep up the good work.
David A. Treptor
Havre de Grace, Maryland
There are so many disturbing dimensions to this
story that it is difficult to know where to start.
As a recent graduate with an MA in Political Studies, the
political dimension is perhaps the most unsettling aspect of
your story. But it reality, I believe it is not just a political or
social problem. In fact, it is an American cultural problem.
We need to realize in this country that it is a problem in our society
not because of any particular sector (politicians, business people, etc.).
After all this is still a democracy. We as a society and a culture have
the power and opportunity to chart our own course. Of course
this takes will and some degree of education and, most importantly,
participation in our public life. Of all the concerns I have, this
is highest on my list.
One last comment. While this particular story did not touch upon it, there
is another important dimension to the explosive growth in Las Vegas. It is
perhaps summed up by one word: water. That is, the sheer lack of it in the
region. The problems of resources like water in areas of explosive growth
are bound to eventually cause extraordinary problems on a variety of
levels unless it is dealt with. Development like that taking place in Las
Vegas is a problem across the country. Gambling, in the case of this story, is
only the symptom of a much larger problem.
Thank you very much for your series. While many of the stories
are unpleasant in terms of their implications, they are extremely important
and useful. Hopefully they can serve as an educational tool and starting point
for the larger public debate. This country is in desperate need of public debate
on a whole range of issues, including "gaming".
Gregory A. Glahn
I HATE the idea of legalized gambling! In In-
diana, we have the lottery, and NOW the Pot-
towatomi Indians want to build 2 casinos, one
here in north-central Indiana, and one in
south-central Michigan. I think that, when
gambling is legalized in an area, crime goes
up! Also, from what I hear, casinos tend to
BECOME the local economy! I WAS for legal-
ization years ago, because I thought that the
ONLY effect would be to technically legal-
ize the kind of thing that went on anyway,
(church bingo, school raffles, VFW and Amer-
ican Legion smokers, etc.), but NOW I KNOW
BETTER!! Even the bingo here has been taken
over by professional halls, (who PROBABLY
give only a MINOR part of the take to the
David Paul Burch
South Bend, Indiana
After watching the thought provoking episode titled
"Easy money" on PBS, I am compelled as an outsider to share
some of my thoughts with you.
The arguments or "benefits" that are often cited
by the organizations intended to build and operate casinos
in housing estates are among other things, increase job
opportunities and offers of community services such as
schools and parks. But, the way I see it is no different
from an attractive bait dangling in front of a fat fish.
The fish stands to lose more than gain. Isn't improve
community services the job for the government? Isn't that
the purpose of people paying taxes? Why do we need to pay
extra "tax" for better education or a park? At what cost
and whose expense are these improvements based on? How much
are they scraping off the community and how much do they
really give back? Gambling is nothing but an efficient
enterprise that exploit the naive masses and fatten a few.
The attractive picture they paint is but a great advertisement
that glorifies the advantages and hide the fine prints.
The cheating begins even before the casino is built.
Gambling is a degrading mode of entertainment. It is
addictive and pray on the less resolute. It should be curbed
but instead we see people promoting it in the name of
economic gains. As long as it makes money, anything goes.
Since when did Americans lose their minds? I may be simple
minded, but I do know gambling whatever you may call it
is bad news.
As long as there are people like to rip others off
while others gullible enough to elect people that like to
rip others off to government positions, gambling will not
only persist, it will thrive. I guess living in a free
country like America, people have the rights to be gullible
and ripped off by cunning businessmen.
Seng Kai Wong
University of Notre Dame
My life to the status of anecdotal--my father
was a compulsive gambler (I grew up near Las
Vegas). We lost our home with $1,500 left on
the mortgage, and my mother and I ended up on
various forms of public (i.e., taxpayer-funded)
assistance for several years.
Didn't the tobacco industry also refuse to
take responsibility for the harm their product
caused? Several states are suing them to
recoup medical expenses. It seems strange
that states are now preying upon their
residents who are prone to addiction to raise
revenues without consideration of the
increases in social costs (public assistance
and criminal/judicial) that will result.
My 14-year-old son recently completed a
research paper on teen gambling addiction.
Dr. Howard Shaffer of Harvard Medical School
believes that in the next decade, gambling
will replace drugs as this nation's biggest
My son also found a link between gambling
addiction and Attention Deficit Disorder.
A study in Iowa found that availability of
legalized gambling affects the percentage
of gambling addicts in that area.
My sons are forming a group called Youth
Against Gambling Expansion and will be
pleading with our legislators to realize
that our youth will have to pay the price for
any decisions we make. The motto of YAGE
is: Don't GAMBLE with OUR future.
Glen Burnie, MD
The debate over gambling is a total waste of time it is part of human nature to
gamble, we are creatures who like to take chances whether it be with money or our
lives, we will gamble no matter if it is legal or not, how many people who are
opposed to gambling have stocks on the stock exchange, that must be the biggest
form of gambling in this or for that matter most countries, you quoted in your
program that the casino made $31,000 an hour how much is won and lost on Wall
street in any given day, but we never here about that in discussions on
gambling. This is a freedom which is my right I earn my money and I choose to do
with it whatever I wish, the people who oppose gambling have every right to there
opinion. There will be causalities from gambling of that there is no doubt but there
are just as many if not more every day in this country with people dying from
gunshot wounds or smoking and drinking, should we ban all of these also?????
THANKS FOR YOUR EXCELLENT EXPOSE ON GAMBLING. IT IS OBVIOUS FROM SOME RESPONSES
THAT MANY PEOPLE DON'T (WANT TO) KNOW THAT THE PRACTICE OF GAMBLING WILL HELP
DESTROY OUR COUNTRY.
FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS NOW I HAVE FOUGHT SUCH IMMORAL, EANS THAT, TAKEN AS A WHOLE,
ZERO GOOD COMES FROM THE ACTIVITY. SIMILAR ACTIVITIES ARE: CHAIN LETTERS, PYRAMID
SCHEMES, PONZI SCHEMES, SCAMS, RIP-OFFS, ETC. SOME WILL CLAIM THAT THESE ARE NOT
ALL THE SAME. RIGHT! BUT AS FAR AS BEING ZERO SUM TO SOCIETY, THEY *ARE* ALL THE
SAME. AND THE MORE ENERGY, EFFORT, AND RESOURCES GOING INTO THEM, THE LESS EFFORTS
WILL BE GOING INTO REALLY PRODUCTIVE AND HONEST ENDEAVORS.
OF COURSE, JUST LIKE CHAIN LETTERS, PYRAMID SCHEMES, ETC., *SOME* INDIVIDUALS WILL
GAIN -- GETTING VERY WEALTHY IN SCHEMES THAT CAN BE DISGUISED AS LEGITIMATE. THAT
IS WHY IT IS SUCH AN INCREDIBLE SITUATION THAT OUR GOVERNMENTS -- AT VIRTUALLY ALL
LEVELS -- IS SUPPORTING IT; EVEN PUSHING IT. GAMBLING WILL SOON -- IF NOT ALREADY
-- BE MORE DETRIMENTAL TO SOCIETY THAN ALL OUR DRUGS PUT TOGETHER. DOES ANYONE
RECALL THAT THE ROMAN EMPIRE CRASHED FROM ROTTING INTERNALLY? "THOSE WHO FAIL TO
LEARN FROM HISTORY WILL BE DOOMED TO REPEAT IT."
I AM VERY THANKFUL TO THOSE FEW INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE TAKEN A STAND AGAINST THE
DEVIL'S GREATEST TOOL IN OUR COUNTRY -- GAMBLING.
I thought your program was excellent last night. However, there are a number of
facts that were not clearly communicated or were misrepresented. The first one is
in the program the narrator stated that Congress made a law that allowed the Indian
Reservations to have gambling operations. This is not true, it was a Supreme Court
decision from the 1987 case Cabazon Band of Mission Indians vs. California that
opened the door for the gambling boom. The court ruled that Indian Reservations
were "dependent sovereigns" and in short because California was a Public Law 280
state that meant that California had criminal jurisdiction while only limited civil
jurisdiction over the reservations.
Since California allowed charitable bingo and
gambling games the regulation was viewed as a civil/regulatory activity and not a
criminal activity. It is correct that Congress did take this landmark decision and
basically codified this ruling in the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Second,
your program failed to emphasize the fact in the case of California that it has a
collection of strange regulations and case law rulings that have emerged over the
last 120 years that have created its unique card club environment. In short, games
of skill are allowed (poker and its variants) while games of chance are not based
on a number of tests.
Players pay fees for each hand and the operation does not
bank like other casinos rather players do. Getting more to the point and related
to this is the fact that local jurisdictions control card clubs and in some cases
like Bell Gardens, Commerce, etc. the cities collect up to 60% of their revenues
from these operations. It was understated that a strong political force in
preventing a logical and comprehensive gambling regulation from emerging is that
these type of cities want to maintain their revenues and fear the state will
extract this important source of revenue. Also the program failed to mention the
between the state and the reservations. The state not maintain a working
relationship with the tribes like other states have such as Minnesota and
Connecticut where compacts for gambling were negotiated rather in California
compacts evolved through the rules developed in IGRA.
There have been a number of
fierce battles between the tribes and the state in recent years mainly over slot
machines. This unstable environment has prevented the industry from growing
especially since California has prevented corporations (except one) from being
involved with gambling operations. Although your program clearly showed the link
between politics and big money on this issue. Finally, I felt that it was also
understated Nevada's reliance on Californians gambling and entertainment dollars.
According to studies in Nevada approximately $3 billion dollars a year flows into
Nevada from California. It would be hard to deny the fact that California is
responsible for helping grow the cities !
of Las Vegas and Reno thus making the state one of the fastest growing in the
nation. There are a number of other interesting issues that emerge when looking
at the new era of gambling proliferation which all states and provinces are dealing
with and as a public policy scholar it is these type of issues that make it so
interesting to study.
Mark T. Green
Most disturbing is the involvement of politicians in gambling. This program supports
my belief that we no longer need elected politicians (They only support their own
ambitions.)for new legislation (and let's review laws that are no longer needed).
We have the technology to have interested individuals vote directly on issues of
interest via the Internet. Each member of Congress costs taxpayers over a million
dollars per year and they don't act in taxpayers' interests. Let's put technology
to work to create a truly democratic government and get rid of career politicians.
Gambling and government are a bad mix.
Although gambling addiction is a very real concern, I feel that, as your program
revealed, our culture and society are increasingly growing addicted to being
entertained. It seems that we have lost the art of healthy leisure. We have been
fooled into thinking that the "good life" is the "easy life." Generally, the
entertainment industries are some of the fastest growing industries within the
nation. This should tell us something about ourselves. Maybe social critic Neil
Postman is correct in his analysis that we are "amusing ourselves to death."
Edward L. Bryant, Jr.
I work in the gambling industry (horse/dog racing). The IGRA back in the late
eighties is one of the culprits to expansion of gambling. Many states are
realizing the loss of potential tax revenue from these Indian Casinos and are now
looking to get into the business too. I believe that there will eventually be a
backlash effect from the expansion of gambling. How many states will wind up
looking like Nevada? Casinos everywhere. Eventually, the semi-monopoly the Native
Americans hold on casino gambling (such as in AZ) will disappear and their revenues
will decrease and they'll need something else. The Frontline episode was very well
done and very informative. If it could be run on Commercial Television, it would
be good for any member of the voting/taxpaying public to watch.
I find it difficult to think of "gaming" as one
of the major policy issues of the day.
If people want to gamble--and based on your story
they certainly do--I do not see that this is any
business of the state.
We had a prohibition on drinking in the 1920's
and 30s, and all that got us were lots of speakeasies
I am willing to pay the few extra pennies in
welfare cost that might be attributable to a small
number of compulsive gamblers in order to preserve
another of our individual freedoms.
Yes, people should be free to make complete fools
of themselves--like that guy compulsively playing
the lottery--in a free country!
Gambling, as in any new and growing industry, will have its surges and declines.
The overall effect of a new casino as we have here in Tacoma (Puyallup Tribes
Emerald Queen Riverboat Casino) is having a positive effect on the area already.
But what I have noticed, is that the people patronizing the local casinos are using
them like stop-overs, and still like Vegas and Reno better, mainly it is a reason
for them to "get away". Until the local casinos (if ever) can generate the
"mystique" of the big names, they will never be fully utilized.
As for myself and gambling, strict discipline is the key to gambling enjoyment, I
enjoy the atmosphere and everything that goes along with it...go to enjoy the
experience, not figuring to make a buck.
As the author of the American Casino Guide, which is the most comprehensive book
available for information on any casino in the U.S., I was interested in your show
on casino gambling.
You seemed to present a balanced view but I think that you could have at least
interviewed some people who enjoy recreational gambling as a fun time rather
focusing on that one guy who seemed to be hooked on the California Lottery.
After all, most people (99%?) who go to casinos have a good time and enjoy
Also, after visiting your web page on the odds in gambling I noticed you have some
errors. The biggest error was in stating that the casino edge is zero when 10 times
odds is offered in craps. What was your source for that information?
I think explosion is too big of a word to use here. The gaming industry hasn't
exploded, but has grown at a pace in relation to the demands of the consumer and
what is allowed by governmental regulation.
All gaming, including Indian gaming, is regulated. In Frontline's report, they
reported that Indian gaming is the most under-regulated gaming industry. Contrary
to that statement (which was one sentence without an exploration into the details)
Indian gaming is highly regulated by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and some
members of Congress seek to expand the regulation, including taxing tribes, who, as
governmental entities, are not taxed. Tribes have accepted regulation (except
federal taxation) even though, some argue, it infringes on sovereign
self-governance by the tribes.
In terms of local communities, I think a lot of exploration needs to be done. The
pros and cons, in my opinion, make claims, but I've yet to see an unbiased report
on the issues.
The only thing wrong with gambling is losing more than the entertainment value of
Legalized gambling could by law limit the exposure of players to a small fraction of
their annual earnings which would have to be deposited with government before play.
It could then require refund of, say, 90% of all losses, one week after play.
Winnings would have to be adjusted to accommodate these limits. Other forms of
gambling could be made illegal.
Alternatively, government could offer gambling on these terms and let private sector
gaming compete with them. In the latter case, taxes on legalized gambling should
all be devoted to support of families ruined by compulsive losers.
Should these reforms fail to win popular support, we will do well to support Indian
gaming. It may be ruining some people and catering to many -- but it certainly is
helping some Indians who formerly had a bad deal.
Senator Bill Lockyer has supporters from the gaming industry and Attorney General
Lundgren listens to the gun manufacturers. Most Californians want neither gambling
in almost every city or unlimited access to handguns but we have both.
San Clemente CA
I may have missed the point, but you certainly missed a major one by not following
the money promised by some of the pro gambling forces. 1. Is there enough money
made after profits to really benefit a local economy. 2. After the cost of
additional public services (police, fire, social...), is it still worthwhile to
offer gambling as a money maker or is it a thickly disguised publicly supported
money drain. 3. Why no economic study of Atlantic City? Over the years I have read
several articles highly critical of what the gambling dynamo has done to erode the
worth of that city? You had time and budget to do a story here, why did you spend
so little of both tracking the real soulless heart of this story, IT'S THE MONEY!
David D. Wilcox, Jr.
Arroyo Grande, California
Among the many vexing issues involving state sponsored gambling is one that has
emerged here in Wisconsin. Original legislation legalizing gambling provided that
there would be no advertising of the lottery, only informational spots on TV,
radio, etc. However, these "informational" spots have developed into advertising
"hooks" aimed at people who are desperate and can least afford to throw away money
on lottery tickets. The lottery in Wisconsin has solved no real revenue problems,
but it has laid the basis for some horrific problems that we will have to face in
the future, the chief among them those addicted to gambling and the disproportioned
rip-off of the poor.
Eau Claire, WI.
I thought the program was great. I work with pathological gamblers, and the
seductiveness of "being in action" is unbelievable. The "Indian Casinos" have
certainly helped many Native Americans, but I have seen so much of that money just
go right back into the casino. Our state is gambling's biggest bookie and its
biggest addict, especially with video lottery. Gambling has gone in cycles in our
country, and I'm not sure where this one is at, but it frightens me. Keep putting
the facts out there so that people can make informed decisions. I don't know what
else we can do.
After seeing your program I decided that "Publisher's Clearing
House" is simply a form of mail-order gambling and their extreme manipulation to get
people to buy garbage has worked with me. I am embarrassed and annoyed with my
feeling that my friends who cannot stay away from casinos are somehow less than me
-- somehow more flawed than myself. This entire issue of gambling, wishing for
something for nothing is sad. Thank you for your program -- it's really important.
After watching your broadcast of 'Easy Money', it's re-
assuring to know that not only is the Federal Government for sale(John Huang and
the Asian connection) but so also is our largest state, California.
It's was unnerving to watch lobbyist's from the US. State
Department owned Bicycle Club Casino enterprise 'help'
craft legislation on the state level designed to prevent
gambling, eh, gaming regulation in California.
Who needs a democracy? Have state legislatures simply
become figureheads bound and gagged by these powerful
Equally disturbing is the audacity shown by the CEO of the
MGM Hotel in Las Vegas in portraying gambling, eh, gaming as a victimless crime.
Gambling is a devastating
illness which often manifests into undesirable consequences.
Contrary to what he professed, gambling has hardly become mainstream America.
Back to the issue of buying influence, I must remember to
write that check to my City Councilor to be sure my trash is
Gambling is a vice. Along with smoking & drinking.
While vices should be tolerated, they should not be encouraged
The fact that the Government is promoting gambling is absurd. Lotteries are the
hallmark of a banana republic.
The only answer I can think of is that it should be illegal to advertise vices. This
includes cigarettes, alcohol & gambling.
The libertarian view that freedom is the ultimate virtue is flawed because most
people equate legal behavior to good behavior and society at large pays the price.
This was made evident by the lady in the casino who said that what she knew to be
wrong 40 or 50 years ago is not wrong any more. Clearly her view of right and
wrong was modified by what the government had merely made legal.
Your piece on gambling (and web page) was excellent and provocative! Now, I just
need to wade through all this data and determine where I stand on the issue. Good
job and keep up the good work. We as a society need to give more thought to
matters such as these.
America has truly lost the "work ethic" that
made us great. Thoughts and fantasies of
living like a king/queen driving Rolls Royces
and eating caviar are dangled like a carrot
in front of an ass. People would rather bet
a dollar or sit around waiting for horse
races and/or numbers to be picked rather than
exerting some effort to better themselves.
I feel sorry for the next generation of the
Thanks for your informative reporting on gambling. You were fair and
honest at the same time. You portrayed a side of gambling that I hadn't
realized was so big...the politics of it. I think it is crazy that an
industry can control the laws regarding its regulation, but even more
hideous is that the government, specifically the Department of Justice,
is playing such a big role in it. At best, this is a conflict of
interest. If more people knew the truth about it, I think there would be
some outrage. You did a fine job of exposing it.
Also, I live near Branson, MO, an area that is no stranger to the
gambling debate. My county (Christian), which borders the county Branson
is located in (Taney), has specifically been targeted by the gambling
industry as a place to sneak under the door. My beliefs against
gambling, especially in this part of the country, were only strengthened
by your report tonight. We have a very low crime rate presently, and
from the studies I have seen, we could lose our family reputation in a
heartbeat if this is brought in.
I intend to visit your WWW site. Again, thanks for this program. I
appreciate the quality and look forward to seeing more of it.
Dan C. Gallo
As a regular poker player in the large card clubs
in Southern California, I am quite curious what
information professor Thompson of UNLV used to inform his
comments regarding these clubs. In several hundred
hours of play at these clubs I have never seen any
evidence of the rampant cheating, collusion,
prostitution, loan sharking, and drug dealing cited
in his interview. I strongly question your use of
such inflammatory comments without any supporting
Darren L. Gasser
Oak Park, CA
As it the case with most personal issues, gambling is a matter of personal choice,
conscience and judgment. Billions of dollars go to places like Las Vegas, I think
it makes a lot more sense to capture as many of these dollars locally than letting
them go where they do nothing to improve our local communities. People gamble and
like to gamble, they always will.
"Easy Money" was extremely interesting. However,
I feel it could have been a 2 hour special
with a part devoted to the odds against the
gamblers to better illustrate how gambling is
a losing proposition for the players,
especially the state lotteries.
Unfortunately, even with a clear demonstration
that the more you gamble the more you lose,
people will continue to do it. Jobs are not
secure, real wages are still going down for
a lot of people, so they will continue to dream
of the big win that will solve all their financial
problems, no matter what the odds are.
The saddest part of it is to see governments
prey on people fears and dreams.
Hull, Quebec, Canada
Watching your program, just shows how corrupt
politicians can become with the lure of money.
"Hey, everyone's doin' it, so it must be OK, right?"
Currently in my county their is one gambling
boat. Just on the other side of the river in
St. Louis county there is another, and a bridge
in between. The I-70 Blanchett Bridge. My suggestion:
Construct a pedestrian walk way on the bridge
for all the people who are jumping off.
Please have more programs like this to show
what a facade this industry is.
The rhetoric over gambling sounds like
something from the 1910's is we substitute
the word "gambling" for the word "alcohol".
History shows that prohibiting an activity
simply makes it more attractive. We are
adults and should make our own decisions.
The fact that gambling can be addictive to
some people should be compared with the
addictive effects of tobacco. The latter is
certainly more costly to the economy than
gambling. We allow people who choose to
smoke the option of doing so. They, and
perhaps their families suffer the
consequences. We do however restrict smoking
to adults in certain locations. Why should
gambling be treated differently? Freedom of
choice is a basic tenet of life in the United
Crescent City, CA
That casino did more for that Indian reservation in less than 5 years, than has been
done with gov't programs(food stamps,HUD etc.)in over 100 years. Also, don't forget
it is the tax payers that fund both the casinos(revenue) & gov't programs(taxes).
However, the Indians get first count on the money earned at the casino, thus
raising their standard of living to the tune of $1000 per week per tribe family.
Hence, most would place their bets on consumers(tax paying CUSTOMERS) rather than
the neo socialist gov't(tax payer's collector) any day when it comes to raising
their standard of living.
My small community of Penryn, near Sacramento California, has experienced the
effects of the expansion of gambling first hand. Last year we were targeted as the
future site of California's largest Indian gambling casino. It was to be the size
of two football fields and include slot machines, card tables and other gambling.
We were told that because it was to be on tribal land that residents, local
government and the State of California had no say in the location or regulation of
the casino. Our community was outraged. We discovered the hard way that gambling
regulation, especially on Indian lands, is practically nonexistant. Even though our
local community is overwhelmingly against the establishment of a gambling casino in
our town, it is very difficult to fight the big money investors funding this
casino. In our case, as well as in many others, if the residents of the community
are permitted to vote for or against a casino in their neighborhood, the gambling
casinos will lose!
Your show on gaming finished with a statement to the effect of "build it and
they will come". More precisely you said that when new casinos opened they
filled up. Not true on the MS gulf coast or in New Orleans. On the coast
there was a shakeout among over built casinos in the Bolixi/Gulfport area and
one in Waveland never had a chance being too out of the way (despite two
tries) since it wasn't on a major hwy. or on the way to any other casino or
vacation spot. Yeah they were just "floating" casinos but others have
survived in the same environment. In New Orleans the land based casino had a
temporary home (in a bad neighborhood) which fell so short of expectation that
the whole project went into bankruptcy. At the same time river boat gaming
had several big failures the net result of which is about 25% of the gaming
that was projected. My guess is that when the land based casino is finished
in New Orleans it may make money but never on the scale that was expected and
well below the industry norms.
Then there was Atlantic City --didn't they have some failures also?
The novelty is wearing off and too many are chasing the same dollars. At
least that's the way it is here.
A very interesting show. I agree with the Methodist pastor that gambling is eating
the heart out of our county. This so called entertainment is and will take money out
of local towns and cities that would otherwise be spent on goods and services.
Frontline should do an investigation to prove what I have just said. Also,
Frontline should investigate the fact that crime and broken families are also the
result of gambling. Keep up the good work. Continue to be a voice for those of us
that do not have a voice.
Indian gaming in the Americas was historically a passion, a way of gaining
economical advantage over an enemy, and part of ceremonial rituals that brought
back the buffalo, rain, harvest, the sun during solstice, etc. It would seem that
the Western view of recreational gambling and the traditional form of ritualized
gambling are diametrically opposed, but a closer look at Greek, Roman, Nordic, and
Hindu texts shows that gambling tied in with spiritual beliefs was a global
phenomenon. The recently released book, GAMBLER WAY: INDIAN GAMING IN MYTHOLOGY,
HISTORY, AND ARCHAEOLOGY IN NORTH AMERICA looks at ancient Indian gaming ritual
and more than 100 native gambling myths and compares them to gambling references
found in Western texts. For more information on the anthropological aspect of
traditional gambling, see http://www.nmia.com/~kgabriel.
The increased ability of the less privileged (sp)
people of North America to perceive their situation is
proportional to the need for elaborate distractions
that subvert their attention.
If everyone watched Frontline, our society would
disintegrate before the show was half over.
The Gaming Industry has not even a shred of
decency or compassion for their fellow man.
Their M.O.(modus operandi) has always been
to further consolidate their wealth & power.
Never mind that our social structure is
crumbling around them.
People are always going to gamble. The very
least the Gaming Industry should be made to do
is pay for the social ills they helped to
There is always the lure of money and the good times
it can bring. Whether gaming is regulated or
not people are going to gamble. The argument that
it ruins lives is not the gambling houses to
blame. It is the gambler since gambling is so
addictive. What stock brokers do is also
gambling, no difference and all of America is
buying stocks and shares. So really this whole
thing gaming is a non-issue. I may have to reluctantly
agree that it does nurture bad elements and
does increase the crime rate. Regulating it may
help I am not sure, but there is no way any
public body can stop people from gambling.
It is an evil that a society like ours has
to live with. There is no shying away from it.
Falls Church, VA
Your program regarding gambling was very interesting. I live in Colorado and we have
legalized gambling in three small mountain towns and the State of Colorado
I have seen my in-laws who are in their 70's spend their time and money on the
pursuit of "easy money." It amazes me because they worked very hard all their
lives to be able to retire with a modest income. They use to camp and ride their
dirt bikes in our beautiful Rocky Mountains. Now, they take bus trips to gambling
towns in and outside our State. I personally do not enjoy gambling or understand
the pleasure in it. I have not expressed to them my opinion of gambling because it
is after all, their right.
Four years ago, I met a man who moved to Colorado from Las Vegas. Originally, he
told me he moved because he was tired of the rat race and his now ex-wife was
transferred here by her company. He lived here over a year before discovering
legalized gambling just 30 minutes away from Denver. He became a frequent visitor
to the gambling casinos. His whole personality changed. He began losing large
sums of money he did not have. He would take out cash advances on credit cards in
order to try and "win it back." To make a long story short, he never did "win it
back" and eventually hit bottom when he lost his job and had to file bankruptcy for
the second time in his life. I learned later on that he had a terrible gambling
problem and that was one of the reasons for the move to Colorado.
I do not agree with the widespread of legalized gambling. I am concerned for the
children who sit in lobbies with very little to do while their parents are
gambling. I think gambling is one of the factors contributing to the
demoralization of American society.
The positive side to this issue is the knowledge that the Native Americans have
discovered the way to get their country back (which was "legally stolen" from
them), they have discovered many people's weakness, GAMBLING!
Where did you get your slot percentage
information? In Nevada slot machines must
pay back a minimum of 85 percent I have
never seen a program under 77 percent even
on cruise line which are not under US.
Control most Nevada casino's pay back 90
percent or better. but still our slots fair
to the public? not since ngb allowed virtual
reel technology in the early 80's.
El Segundo, CA
We all gamble. We take a job and gamble if we
will be downsized. We start a business and
gamble if it will make it. It is just the degree
of involvement. I can go to Las Vegas and put
down a bet for $5.00. If I want to start a business
the cost is greater. The point is that life is a
gamble. You don't decide the outcome because
there are too many variables and you must take
your chances. Granted with the "Gaming Industry"
there are those who won't be able to control
themselves. Should all people who want to play
games of chance be denied because of the few
who are unable to control their actions?
It may destroy lives as does reckless driving,
alcohol, excess eating or sexually deviant behavior.
But should responsible people be denied the ability
to drive, drink (not while driving of course), eat
or have sex because of those who can't control
themselves. I think not we must take responsibility
for our actions and not blame the devils who provide
a legitimate past time for the majority of the
I am a United Methodist and have been proud of my church's long struggle against
nationwide gambling proliferation. I am sad to say, however, that there is
obviously a correlation between the declining influence of mainline Protestant
denominations like mine and the explosion of legalized gambling in America. The
battle against gambling is a fight that the Methodist Church also fought in the
last century, but with greater success. The message was better received then, I
suspect, because vices like gambling were perceived by most people as sinful per se
or encouraging of sin. Today, if you call gambling a sin, you're laughed at, or
worse, called a racist because of all the prosperity it has brought to our Indian
brothers and sisters. Sin transcends racial divides, however. Indian gaming is
the redistribution of misery: the poverty is being shifted off the reservations
onto non-Indians as the limited earnings of those in the lower middle class pour
into the Indian gaming palaces. A similar principle is at work in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. We can kid
ourselves all we want that the money we lose in casinos or on lottery tickets is
just "entertainment money" which we could have just as well spent at the movies or
a ball game. This is an insidious rationalization. What force inside of us is in
the driver's seat when we can't stop, not just yet, anyway! laying our money down.
Sin is that which separates us from God. "You cannot serve both God and Money"
Matt.6:24 (NIV). People must choose which one, given the odds, is worth risking
I applaud your comprehensive report on the problem of "gaming" in
America. Your program revealed, with clarity, the ticking time-bomb
just waiting to go off . . . that is, the destruction of the
infrastructure of society . . . man's care for fellow man. Anyone
objectively viewing your program could see that "gambling" is not the
problem . . . the problem is the greed which drives the whole
process. Why can't we see that one cannot possibly participate in
gambling of any form, without finding himself in violation of the
"Golden Rule"? Obviously, in our present society, it is the gold
itself which rules, and like the one man said (paraphrased here),
"...the money is the honey... and it attracts the flies."
It seems so clear to me that the gambling industry is in reality a
dead-end street. There will come a time when it has "milked the cow
dry" and there will be no one left with any money to blow except
those who have been milking the cow all along. This, to me, is the
most sinister part of the scheme... it (the gambling industry)
depends on seducing each successive generation into its trap. And it
will no doubt try . . . seduction is the name of the game. Sorry,
Mr. Casino man . . . but I ain't bitin'!
Jody W. Durham, Evangelist
Ronan church of Christ
Ronan, Montana 59864
AS A KEY EXECUTIVE OF THE BICYCLE CLUB CASINO, I AM IN A POSITION OF ADVANTAGE TO
KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS AND WHAT DOES NOT. CERTAINLY THERE ARE BOUND TO BE
UNDESIRABLES COMING IN TO ANY BUSINESS. THAT IS FROM TIME TO TIME HARD TO CONTROL.
HAVING WORKED IN OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY FOR HIGHLY RESPECTED CORPORATIONS,
THIS ORGANIZATION IS SO AMAZING. THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT I HAVE COME TO KNOW THERE
FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS HAS DONE A DISASTER OF A JOB. MOSTLY DUE TO THE TRUSTEES IT
APPOINTS WHO KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ANY BUSINESS AND HAVE EXPERIENCE AT MANAGING
BUSINESS FAILURES. AS A CITIZEN, I AM MORE CRITICAL WITH ATTORNEY GENERAL LUNGREN
WHO PROFESSES TO BE SUCH A TOUGH LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER. AT THE SAME TIME HIS TOP
DEPUTIES ARE PARTICIPATING IN A SEMINAR AS PRESENTERS LATER THIS MONTH AT HOLLYWOOD
PARK CASINO IN INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA. THE SUBJECT IS PREVENTING CARD CHEATING AND
SHOWING SURVEILLANCE TECHNIQUES. THE INTERESTING PART ABOUT THIS IS THERE IS ONE
PRESENTER, DON SHEPARD, WHO IS A KNOWN CONVICTED FELON WHO SERVED A SENTENCE IN A FEDERAL
FACILITY IN MO. AFTER HE WAS FINGERED FOR PARTICIPATING IN MONEY SKIMMING AT THE
TROPICANA IN LAS VEGAS SOME YEARS AGO. HIS NAME EVEN APPEARS IN THE BOOK CASINO.
HOW CAN MR. LUNGREN, WHO PROFESSES HE WILL BE THE BEST CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR, AND
WANTS REGULATION, PARTICIPATE IN SUCH AN ACTIVITY WITH SUCH A CHARACTER?
I just watched your program on Gambling in America.
We here in Canada are on the same path that much of the United States is on
with respect to that issue although small communities have successfully
campaigned against Video Lottery Terminals and the like. This though against
a government which has tended to back off in the face of voter indignation
with such issues. We have not faced the kind of pressure exerted from the
"Big Money" lobbyists you have there. I am sure though that this phenomena
will likely appear in the future.
Your program this week provided a valuable insight into the issue of gambling
and I hope that some sort of moderation of it is reached due to programs like
Congratulations on a fine episode.
I think gambling is a form of entertainment
that most people are incapable of controlling.
they manage to lose more than they should
which in effect causes trouble for them, the
family, etc. while it is OK to go on vacation and enjoy the
gambling environment, it isn't good to have a
casino in the area which you live.
Sturgeon Bay, WI
Thank you for televising the excellent program entitled Easy money.
The basis for the current explosion in gambling in the US is nothing new. 2500
years ago a man named Guatemala Siddartha, the Buddha or enlightened one, taught
about the root causes of human suffering. He found that greed, desire, and delusion
were key causes of suffering. The Buddha also found that these characteristics of
human beings were very difficult to overcome.
Our culture is a glaring example of how little human psychology has changed in the
last 2500 years. Las Vegas and the nation wide gambling craze are grand examples of
how prevalent greed, desire and delusion still are and how deeply they are embedded
into our culture.
Will this gambling craze cause anything but the human suffering the Buddha
predicted? I think not.
My once to twice a year trips to Las Vegas for the past 10 years are for the fun
and excitement of a 24-hour a day city. I do very little actual gambling. My
brother, however, lives near an Indian reservation and has become addicted, almost
losing everything he has worked for over his lifetime, including his home, wife and
child. He began gambling just one year ago, not knowing of his addiction until it
was almost too late. I believe there are many people who do not know of their own
weaknesses, and I believe making gambling more accessible will ruin many families.
Great Show! You did very well showing the advantages and disadvantages of
gambling. Though my name is Gamble, as I get on in years, I see more harm
than good to gambling.
Gambling may be viewed as an entertainment, but it's money spent usually
away from the community where it originates. This reduces the quality of
life of that community while supporting a billion dollar industry that is
slowing taking over American Family Values.
Quality programming like this is worth every dollar. I plan in increase my
support to PBS to ensure that journalism like this program continues.
Kevin C. Gamble
Your program did not mention the recent proliferation of legal slot machines here in
DE. The lure of gambling (combined with the lure of free meals in their excellent
buffet restaurant) seems to draw predominantly the elderly, minorities, and the
handicapped. All machines are connected by computer and video cameras are
everywhere. I strongly suspect that there is more than simply chance involved in
selecting which gamblers win big. Rarely are the big winners members of
minorities. Often, the big winners seem to have some connection to those who are
involved in operating these facilities or are members of some preferred demographic
group. At least, these have been my unscientific observations.
Four topics/questions came to mind during your "Easy Money" program?
1) The Bicycle Club -- a bike manufacturer? The way in which the US. Marshall's
asset seizure of the Bicycle Club's shares has been handled is in violation of the
Constitution and all ethical practices. The Federal Government should sell every
penny's worth of stock immediately. Who's responsibility is it to see that this is
carried out? How do we police our own "police?"
2) I refuse to play the Missouri Lottery because of the way the bill was promoted to
the public: "... a great opportunity for new road projects, to create jobs and,
most importantly, to improve the state education system."
Likewise, the way most other state lotteries have been passed -- great promises for
the use of the new funds generated. However, in Missouri, these funds pour
straight into the General Fund.
Since passage of the bill, state education costs have risen at a shocking rate,
teachers are still fighting for fair wages and cutbacks lurk around every corner.
Since gambling is such a significant revenue stream for state governments why can't
a separate account be created for gambling-generated revenues? Then, pass
legislation stating -- by strict percentage -- what portion of these funds is to go
toward what departments? Let the public judge whether or not the improvements made
justify the personal costs of gambling.
3) "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs." "Surgeon General Warns:
Smoking causes lung cancer." Sound familiar? How about: "This is your wallet
before you left the house. This is the sunburn you got walking home after you lost
your shirt." or "Surgeon General Warns: Gambling can cause skin cancer."
Undoubtedly, drugs and cigarettes are harmful to your health. Gambling can be
equally addictive and as mentally harmful as any drug. It is ludicrous not to at
least warn individuals of the hazards of gambling along with promoting it.
The choice to gamble, use drugs and smoking are just that -- choices. Because
gambling generates such revenue, the government won't fully inform the public of
its downside, nor the real odds of winning. If the government could reap profits
from the drug trade and monopolize the tobacco industry we'd never see another
infomercial or warning label blackballing their use.
4) Campaign contributions. What size and kind of grass roots movement will it take
to make it illegal for any politician in, or rung for office, or any political
party to accept contributions from private industry?
Each party should have a set campaign fund provided by taxpayers for use in their
campaigns and not a penny more. This would level the playing field for anyone
wishing to hold office and keep private business influence out. Just a thought.
I really enjoyed your program. It was very thought-provoking.
On Thursday evening, June 10, 1997 you presented an expose concerning the
effects of gaming without documenting any cases where individuals or families have
lives destroyed by gambling. How can you possibly defend such an oversight?
With regards to casino gambling on Native American lands, I like to view the issue
in a historical context. After hundreds of years of persecution, the tribes have
finally found a way to take back a little something from the people who put them on
reservations. I say, more power to them!
St. Cloud, MN