Monday, January 08, 2018

New Spokane Tribe Casino--Virtue? Or Vice?

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Most of you who read this Faith and Freedom Daily column don't live in Spokane, Washington.

However, what has been done by the local Spokane Tribe is typical of what's happening across the country.

The Tribe says the new convenient gambling complex will be very, very helpful to thousands of people---it will be a "Virtue."

However, mountains of evidence collected over the past 20+ years show otherwise. Evidence says it's a "Vice."

A closer look.

The Spokesman-Review said yesterday, "The Spokane Tribe Casino opens Monday evening [today], creating a new West Plains venue for gamblers to test their luck. Beyond the flash of Vegas- style slot machines and table games lie the Spokane Tribe's aspirations for a better future."

Carol Evans, chairwoman for the 2,900-member Spokane Tribe says, "We want to provide opportunities, we want to give our young people the tools to help them succeed."


The Tribe also has a longer-term plan to expand the casino to where it will provide about 5000 jobs, with an annual payroll of about $66 million.

The Spokane reservation unemployment rates are about 50%. Evans notes that the buildings are in disrepair, the Tribe wants to expand its medical clinic, creating wellness programs, send more students to college on scholarships, and expand indigenous language and cultural programs.

Also understood. I guess.

Phase one of the gaming complex is built on a 145-acre site on Highway 2, West of downtown near Fairchild Air Force Base. While other Tribes have objected saying this new casino will draw customers from their casinos in the area because this one is so convenient to the largest city in the region. They're probably right because there is a finite number---albeit a large number, of people who are willing to throw their money away.

I'm writing about this today because America (and the world) is becoming obsessed with gambling. This is not unique to Spokane, Washington, but it does reflect a culture that, under the guise of "helping" people, is actually destroying people and communities.

A mountain of evidence gathered since the mid 1990s is shouting that gambling is a "vice" not a virtue." Now we are creating "convenience" based casinos in America.

A lot of things have changed since 1995 when this began in earnest. What casino backers are covering up is the real concern inside the industry over market saturation.

Where is this money coming from? The money being lost is truly lost, by the gambler and to the general economy as well.

States and communities across the nation are trying to come to grips with the reality of this plague.

In Massachuetts, State Senator Jamie Eldridge, a Democrat, yes a Democrat, has been fighting the proliferation of this new predatory practice of building conveneint gaming operations.

While I don't agree with most of his Democrat positions, I certainly agree with his view on this issue.

In a well-documenmted communication sent to his constituents, he quotes Frank Fahrenkopf, CEO of the American Gaming Association: "If someone were to come along and tell me that they were going to put a casino...where I live, I would probably work very, very hard against it."

Eldridge says, "Casinos are simply one huge transfer of money from the pockets of working families to the bank accounts of multimillionaires."

Even tribal casinos most always contract Vegas-based management companies to run their gambling operation, with only the lowest paying jobs going to locals.

And he says, "Comprehensive studies show that gambling causes increases in crime, including rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and auto theft."

He says, "More 'convenience gambling' closer to home, creates more problem gamblers."

As I said, there are mountainous amounts of research that supports the fact that gambling is personally destructive. And expanding it into neighborhoods only increases its negative impact.

Some studies show that gambling addictions go up 10 times the number of jobs created in a community.

For every 1 job created, 10 new addicts are created.

Eldridge says, "Legislation can't fix the addiction problem, because "predatory slots make their profits off players who play until they are broke."

While the Spokane Tribe---and other tribal casino models--- is a bit different than non-tribal, the impact on the individual who gamble and the surrounding community is the same.

Card dealers earn on average $15,810 per year. This number matches the numbers being put out by the Spokane Tribe spokeswoman---"5000 new jobs with an annual payroll of about $66 million"--- equals on average $13,200 annual salary.

Government data shows that casino workers generally can't afford to live in the communities where they work. While this may be slightly different regarding the Spokane Tribe, it is consistent with the hundreds of communities that have hailed gambling as the virtue to save the day.

Many surveys show that dependence on food stamps (SNAP) and other welfare entitlements actually increases where casinos provide jobs.

Again, I understand the difference between tribal casinos and non-tribal casinos.

However, both models reflect the same injury to the community.

A revealing article by CityLab shows how deceptive the gambling industry really is.

They say, "Experts on gambling and state funding say that Maryland is only one of dozens of states taking gambling revenue meant for education and using it for other purposes."

Denise Runge, a dean at the University of Alaska says, "In almost every case, states either earmark the funds for education but then decrease the general fund appropriations for education by a similar amount, or, in more cases, they simply put the money in the general fund."

The gambling industry is rife with deception and false hope. In fact, it's built on false hope.

It is certain, however, that gambling addictions are among the most destructive of all addictions according to the Congressional commissioned National Gambling Impact Study.

There is a better way.

My friend Kirby Anderson, founder of Probe Ministries, has written an excellent paper on "Why Gambling Is Wrong" from a biblical perspective.

He shows how it 1) breeds a form of covetousness; 2) destroys the work ethic, and 3) destroys families.

The further we drift away from biblical principles in our culture, the greater price we pay in the consequences.

I'll be talking more about what the Bible says about gambling today on our live radio program.

Join me live at 9 AM PST from anywhere in the world on the radio, your iPhone or your computer. Here's how.

Gambling is not a virtuous solution to anything.

It is a vice that ultimately destroys.

Be Informed. Be Vigilant. Be Faithful. Be Prayerful.