Author:Reno, R.R.
Position:THE PUBLIC SQUARE - Essay

Atlantic City was, in 1977, the first city outside Nevada to legalize casinos. Now many states have welcomed casino gambling and slot machines. Legislatures love the revenue, and neither the left nor the right thinks any big issues are at stake. There are. Why Casinos Matter, a new report from the Institute for American Values, details the human and social costs of gambling.

Of its many bad effects, the predatory nature of casino gambling stands out. According to one study, infrequent, casual gamblers account for 75 percent of casino visitors while contributing just 4 percent of the casinos' net revenues. The profits come from the regulars. And the regulars are disproportionately poorly educated and poorly paid people. The gambling industry and the legislators who pave the way for its expansion prey on the weak--and voters like us who ignore the issue fail to protect them.

It's part of a large-scale pattern. Gambling, like so much else, is no longer taboo. Our growing libertarian consensus shrugs. If people want to gamble, well, that's their business. We've seen something similar with pawnshops, which have...

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