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Dark Side of Casinos

In the media, casinos are usually portrayed as colorful and bustling places, filled with lights and sound, where conversation and fun can flow. For some, this view is accurate. Casinos can provide a good time with friends and an escape from everyday stressors but casinos have a dark side as well. It can be a place where gambling addictions begin. 


When did casinos switch from a simple escape from the outside world to a money grab that directly leads to addiction and higher taxes? No one could have predicted the enormous growth that casinos have seen throughout the country, with some places relying almost completely on the revenue of the casino. The endemic of casino creation is barreling across America. Not all residents in their vicinity are happy about it.


How Did it Begin?


Gambling didn't start with casinos. Rather, casinos were created to monetize the human instincts to play games and make bets with each other. There is even evidence of gambling in the earliest societies of the world, making it evident that betting is a normal part of socialization. Humans throw around phrases all the time, such as, “What are the odds that…”


When having some time to pass, humans find pleasure in card games. There's an entire section of the app store that consists of gambling games, such as poker and solitaire, which brings in millions of dollars of revenue on the iTunes store. We are surrounded by innocent games every day, even ones that simply provide entertainment and socialization. Casinos were created based on that love people have for games, betting, and socialization.


The Growth of Casinos


When casinos were first created, they quickly grew into more than just a game room. They came with restaurants, gift shops, and hotels, adding to a greater experience. Decades later, casinos are a shell of what they once were, created without windows or clocks, forcing patrons to lose track of time and only feeding them with the high of gambling. People often don't stay overnight or socialize at all. Instead, they play solo games on machines that are created to get them hooked. 


In the last 40 years, gambling has been legalized in 30 states. This recent legalization is a clear path to monetary gain as the number of casinos has increased across the United States. This influx of casinos hasn't been all bad. Casinos attract visitors from far and wide, bringing tourism and financial attention to different states. Even within the casino, there could be multiple restaurants, gift stores, and other areas for workers to make money. Despite these possible positive attributes, the success of a casino is based on addiction and no economy should rely on something so negative. 


Negative Impacts


Gambling addicts often come from a low tax bracket, hoping to, “get rich quick.” They are people who finally become desperate enough to be attracted to the allure of quick money. Richer people are less likely to be found spending their hard-earned money at a local casino, as they don't need to. Instead, those in the higher tax brackets reap the benefits that casino revenue may bring. This twisted Robin Hood situation seems corrupt and indecent, as tax revenue is increasing at the expense of the addiction-prone people of America. 


Should tax money be taken from the shaky hands of addiction?  


Forbes magazine released an article last year explaining that in the year of 2022, gambling in America reached a record high amount of losses, adding up to a total of almost 60 billion dollars lost. St. Louis Fed. Org found that, “The amount of money wagered in American corporate casinos is not trivial. More than $370 billion was wagered during 2000 alone. This is roughly $1,300 per person in the United States.” For some Americans, that amount of money could be life-changing. 


Coming to an Island Near You


An example of a new casino being created takes place in Nassau County, Long Island. A casino has been proposed on the already crowded island, just 40 minutes outside of New York City by train. Currently, there is only one casino in New York City, so for gambling enthusiasts in the metropolitan area, this would be a win. This casino is proposed by Las Vegas Sands Corp, who wants to create a large casino resort on the site of a little, used sports stadium. This casino would be right in the middle of a low-middle-class area.  


The plan is causing controversy and despair for some residents. Some residents and legislators love the idea of the casino and feel it will bring revenue to the area. Others feel it will bring nothing but traffic, crime, and prostitution, and will worsen the real estate market. Groups of residents on Long Island have banded together to create social media groups, like Facebook, to protest against the Sands group. They have staged rallies and sent out petitions,  all in an attempt to stop the Sands from coming to the island. 


To further investigate how this casino will affect Long Island, it's helpful to look at past examples of places where casinos found homes. One such example is Atlantic City. When casinos were first legalized in New Jersey, the residents and business owners were assured that casinos in Atlantic City would bring revenue and tourism. 


Today, it is a popular belief that the promise was not kept. The money made by the casino was used to renovate, sell, and create more revenue… for the casino. Additionally, it was found that homes in the surrounding area are on the market for less than they were before the casinos took over. The casino that might be coming soon to Long Island will have adverse effects on the nearby communities. 


If history repeats itself, as history tends to do, casinos are a negative addition to any community. Although the casino may bring in revenue, this money will ultimately be put back into the gambling venue and never reach the taxpayers. Further, this money will be tainted by the addiction and crime that comes with the creation of a casino. 


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