Casino

Video: Play to Extinction

By Ryan McGreal
Published December 20, 2012

Last year, an American non-profit organization called Stop Predatory Gambling produced a short documentary video called Play to Extinction about electronic gambling machines - also called slots - and their pernicious, addictive, harmful designs.

The term "play to extinction" is industry jargon for a player continuing to gamble until all their money is gone, i.e. the primary objective of the casino.

The documentary quotes John Kindt, professor of business and legal policy at the University of Illinois: "The US National Gambling Impact Study Commission calls these electronic gambling machines the 'crack cocaine of creating new addicted gamblers."

Sounds like Councillor Sam Merulla was onto something after all when he compared OLG to "crack dealers".

I'll close with a scathing comment by civil rights historian Taylor Branch:

State sponsored gambling is an essential corruption of democracy, because it violates the most basic premises that make democracy unique: that you're in this together. That's what a compact of citizens is. And the first step away from that is to play each other for suckers. We're going to trick them into thinking that they're going to get rich, and they're really going to be paying my taxes.

Ultimately, a casino is nothing more than a voluntary tax collection centre. It is designed to keep gamblers inside for as long as possible and the game is rigged so that the casino always collects more than it pays out. "The more you play, the more you lose" is a mathematical certainty.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2012 at 09:07:33

But just imagine the economic development!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2012 at 09:11:33 in reply to Comment 84217

(by the way I hope you have a good imagination because the economic development is entirely imaginary)

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By arienc (registered) | Posted December 20, 2012 at 09:07:36

State sponsored gambling is an essential corruption of democracy, because it violates the most basic premises that make democracy unique: that you're in this together. That's what a compact of citizens is. And the first step away from that is to play each other for suckers. We're going to trick them into thinking that they're going to get rich, and they're really going to be paying my taxes.

Great quote! I also think this one from James Howard Kunstler applies:

What's wrong with state-sponsored gambling is simple: it promotes the idea -- inconsistent with the realities of the universe -- that it's possible to get something for nothing. It is unhealthy to an extreme for a society to make this idea normal because it defeats another idea that a society absolutely depends on for survival -- namely that earnest effort matters. It conditions the public to magical thinking -- a characteristic of children -- and disables their ability to function as adults. The expansion of gambling is especially tragic at a time when this society faces epochal economic problems that threaten its existence, and by this I mean the permanent global energy crisis that will require us to reorganize virtually all the crucial activities of daily life. This is a time when the nation can least afford to disable adult thinking and earnest effort.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2012 at 09:11:17 in reply to Comment 84218

Yep - gambling is nothing more than moving money around which is inherently inefficient and generates NOTHING tangible. It is basically what the banks did to create the economic shit show that the US is living through (and that we are being dragged into by nature).

Gambling as an economic driver only works if you are using it to strip the pockets of people from another society. If you are inflicting it on your own, you're simply creating a black hole.

God, it's so simple to understand, I just don't understand how anyone at any level of government can possibly make a positive case of it.

It all comes down to ONE question: WHERE DOES THE MONEY COME FROM?????

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2012 at 09:29:09 in reply to Comment 84221

The government doesn't care where the money comes from. All they know is that they need more of it, and they're afraid to be seen raising taxes, even if it's to reverse the recent tax cuts for corporations and the very wealthy that have left provincial finances unsustainable.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2012 at 09:23:37 in reply to Comment 84226

All the money that we use in Canada is created by the Bank of Canada...

1.) The Government of Canada has a bank account at the B of C which is constantly topped up with cash.

2.) If this account runs low, the B of C sells debt to primary dealers. This reduces cash reserves in the banking system and increases debt instruments.

3.) If too much liquidity is taken out of the banking system, this will cause the demand for reserves (cash) to rise, which will in turn cause interest rates to rise. In order to offset this, the B of C buys adds cash by buying debt from banks.

4.) Since banks lend out a multiple of their capital (which includes Government of Canada bonds), the constant influx of new debt into the banking system ensures that the monetary base expands year after year.

At the federal level, taxes are actually part of the monetary system. For example, if there were no federal taxes, money would flow into the banking system, but would never leave. By taxing Canadians, the feds ensure that money growth is kept roughly in line with productivity growth.

In short, gambling is not necessary for Canada to fund anything. If the feds want to fund something, all they have to do is issue debt. The trick is to fund those things that make us all better off.

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2012 at 09:37:01 in reply to Comment 84226

Well they should care because no matter how they get it (via taxes, gambling or whatever), it's all coming from the same group of citizens.

The gambling angle just makes more citizens poor and shrinks the pot.

It's profitable for a grand total of about 30 seconds.

Comment edited by seancb on 2012-12-20 09:58:07

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By LOL all over again (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2012 at 05:40:07

Sorry, but you cannot use words that are likely spam when you post anonymously.

What are those words? Can anyone supply a list or at least a guideline or is this a closely guarded secret?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted December 22, 2012 at 14:50:50 in reply to Comment 84337

the easy solution is to just register...

but the offending word is likely "casino"

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By Registering is not easier (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2013 at 08:11:27 in reply to Comment 84356

How is it easier? asking for a list of the offending words is just as easy. Stop trolling for trolling's sake. That seems to be the way you do business around here - "agree with me or else!"

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 06, 2013 at 19:41:06 in reply to Comment 84746

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