Monday, April 9, 2012

Experts: Casinos Lead to Gambling Addiction; Cue the Hysterics

Posted By on Mon, Apr 9, 2012 at 4:40 PM

Dangerous addict.
  • Dangerous addict.

Now that we're only about a month away from pulling back the curtain on the Cleveland casino, you can already see what's going to be on the menu for the next couple of weeks: sugary moral hysterics whipped into a fine foam by speculation and served with a heaping helping of the obvious.

We had a feeling this was coming. Considering the casino represents such a game change for the region – the legalization of a previous illegal activity, the defibrillation of Tower City, demographic groups who usually only read about each other in the paper now sharing the same blackjack table – it's a stock newsroom move to ask WHAT IT ALL MEANS?; considering we're less inclined to tune in, read, or click unless the tea leaves spell out possible bad shit, these pre-op assessments usually truck out worse case scenarios or potential disaster.

So we get this: the Associated Press (through the News-Herald) tells us “Experts: Casino will add to risks in Cleveland.”

What “risks” are we talking here? Crime? An overtaxed downtown? No, gambling addiction (not to gripe, but that's a bit of newsmaker slight of hand: whereas the headline presents the risks in the general (“risks in Cleveland”), the actual article limits its discussion to people suffering from a clinical jones for games).

Now, before we go any further, we're going to get this out: gambling addiction is serious and well-documented, and should be treated. But doesn't is go without saying that a casino will be a threat to the part of the population suffering from this addiction – if I looked you dead in the eye and said opening a porn store would be a threat to porn addicts in the neighborhood, you'd say: “Thank you, Captain Obvious.”

But even after we get a sense of what we're actually talking in terms of potential risks, we don't get a lot of information to hang an assessment on. The study providing addiction stats the story references is from the same year Limp Bizket put out “Nookie”; the story only quotes two addicts who don't even live in Ohio. About the only relevant info we get is from local addiction counselors who expect to be busier – to which we say, “Duh,” and God speed.

Will the incidences of gambling addiction increase once the casino opens? Probably – as everyone assumed going into this. So we're not sure it's necessary to cue up the outrage or send the general public into nervous convulsions about potential droves of slot-hungry lunatics holding up school kids at knife point for their lunch money. When you start yammering about potential problems, more likely than not you miss the actual ones. And there's a difference between being prepared and speculating wildly.

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