Casino gambling has spread across this great nation. In Punkin Center, Missouri, where this writer lives, we see our neighbors leaving to go to “the boat.” Wow, we think, right here in Punkin Center. But that is not all. Casino issues are on ballots across this country. The Presidential election will draw big crowds – big crowds that will also vote on changing the rules of legal gambling.
Here in Missouri the casinos are limited to river boats. That is sort of misleading. Well, not sort of – it is a flat out wrong. The Casinos are supposed to be on floating River Boats. The measure was loosely written such that big ditches were carved out of the Missouri River banks, flooded, and then a barge was placed in the ditch. The casinos were then built on the barge – thus qualifying as being floating on the river.
These casinos then built huge complexes around the floating barge. When one walks through the complex one hardly notices the transition from land to water. One can know that one is on the barge if there are gaming tables or slot machines around – they are only permitted on floating boats. We think that the casinos must legally have a certified River Boat Captain present. This is a function of the United States Coast Guard.
(The United States Coast Guard has offices in St. Louis where they test qualified candidates. In our case they are certified by tonnage – most of the barges qualify as one hundred ton vessels. This “Pilot License” is granted to anyone who has something like 700 hours aboard ship and can pass the written exam. They are licensed as merchant marine pilots).
Missouri presently has a five hundred dollar loss limit every two hours. The patron enters the casino and purchases a tally sheet. Every time they lose money the tally sheet is punched or marked or something. When the patron loses five hundred dollars in a two hour period they have to leave. They can come back in an hour – but they have to leave for a while. This statute is intended to protect us rednecks from losing the farm. It does not work.
The issue for Missouri, on the ballot this November, is to eliminate the five hundred dollar loss limit. Anyone can lose as much as they want and as fast as they want. Get rid of those government regulations – give people their freedom.
A year after the Casino opened down the road in St. Joe the number of bad check cases in that county went up by seven or eight a week. These seven or eight were people who had never seen the inside of a courtroom before. Many of them were in their thirties and forties – good family people – working class, regular Joe Six Pack types.
Bankruptcies have doubled. Marriages have been destroyed. Homeless rates are up. Food kitchens are busier than ever. The woman’s abuse shelter is full. Social Service agencies are struggling to keep up.
Local and State revenues went up in the short term. We say short term because we cannot bring ourselves to believe that this redistribution of wealth – from the working class to the Casino class is good for long term tax revenues.
But Missouri is not unique. Casino issues are on ballots across the country. Most of these issues are designed to increase gambling. Are there any out there that are designed to decrease gambling. We are not aware of any.