The gambling industry is preying on those who can least afford the vice, and it’s costing taxpayers millions of dollars, as middle class addicts are forced into poverty. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Katrina Bookman walked into Resort World Casino in Queens last August and hit a jackpot worth almost $43 million. At least she though she did. The single mother of four children was told that the slot machine she was using had malfunctioned, and she was offered a free steak dinner as a consolation.
Resort World says its business is not cheap, boasting the fact that it hands out more than $50 million a day to individual winners. But Les Bernal of Stop Predatory Gabling says one could bet that it takes in a good deal more than that from single moms like Bookman.
“There’s actually a term right from the industry themselves. Slot machines are designed to get people to ‘play to extinction.’ And by that they mean to lose all the money you came with – your wallet, and ultimately to have you hit the ATM and extract money from credit cards, get cash advances, and so forth,” he laments.
Even after the casino has taken all the money a gambler might have spent supporting the local economy, the vice has not finished decimating the community. Bernal says wherever casinos go, crime always follows, because it is remarkably easy to launder crooked money.
“You just put it into a slot machine, and you press the button to cash out. They give you a little ticket, you go to the cash out window, and the cash out window gives you a receipt saying you have … gambling winnings,” Bernal relays.
And, of course, the criminal brings the crime with him. Bernal points out that wherever casinos go up, so do sex crimes, drugs, robberies, and the like, not to mention urban blight, as families disintegrate through domestic abuse, bankruptcies, and divorce.