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.