Let’s face it, Indian Casinos are a lousy idea. They prey on people’s weakness and it is eroding the quality of life in California. Think about it, every dollar put into those casinos is one less that spent in the community on goods and services. Never mind that gambling is leaves people and their families broke and in debt. You used to have to go to Nevada to become a gambling bum, now you can find them in Casinos mid-week here in California.
Indian Gaming has ruined people because they can’t resist a casino that is located in their back yard. Case in point was a senior citizen I met when I bought her houseboat. She was a year behind on the dock fees and she needed to sell the boat before she lost all its value. She gambled all her inheritance away after her husband died at the local Indian Casino in her community. She didn’t have to buy a ticket and get on a plane or a bus to Reno or Las Vegas. She didn’t have to drive her car hundreds of miles to gamble. She only had to go a few miles to give away her inheritance. I felt sorry for her but she needed the money and I wanted the boat.
I used to think gambling was a victimless crime but I don’t any more. We are connected and our actions have an impact on our friends, families, and communities. Some people have no resistance to temptations that are in their immediate proximity. We contribute to ruined lives by allowing these money pits to be built among us.
I say among us because proximity to temptation is important. Like a magnet, temptation loses power the farther away it is. This is why car dealers press you so hard on your first visit to their dealership. They know that their best chance to sell you something is on your first visit, when the temptation to buy that shiny fresh-smelling auto is right in front of you. They know there is high liklihood they will lose you if you have time to go home and think about it or shop elsewhere. Your proximity to the temptation favors the dealer’s bottom line.
Internet porn is another example of proximity. Many people are hooked by the online flesh trade who wouldn’t dare buy a porn magazine or be seen walking into an adult book store. It is the proximity of the temptation that has overcome the outside influences and internal controls that would otherwise present barriers to consumption of porn.
Public visibility, public humiliation, a nagging conscience and potential exposure to the community all have time to creep into the person’s consciousness when temptation is distant. Easy Internet access creates no space or time to cross in which to consider the impacts.
An even simpler example is that most people on a diet decide not to bring sweets into their house because they know having them close at hand presents a temptation. If they have to actually leave the house to break their diet they are less likely to do so. The chocolate temptation is safer on the shelf at the grocery store than in the fridge at home.
It is not a wise decision to locate gambling so close to home. The argument in favor of casinos was an appeal to collective public guilt. Remember the tribal leaders who appealed to us on commercials to help his people? Approval of casinos may have eased public guilt about Native Americans but there must be a less damaging way to help Native Americans become a prosperous people.