Gambling With Our Lives

Internet gambling is now legal in New Jersey.

You can place your bet from home, in your car on your App, even the casino’s hotel room mini bar is connected to the blackjack tables. Prop your feet up on the mini bar eat drink and gamble never leave your room.

Let’s add a bidet and you never even have to leave the mini bar to relieve yourself. Imagine hotel rooms a mere 50 square foot – just large enough for a mini bar and a cot. Call it Gamblers Paradise. Meat Loaf will retitle their song to Gamblers by the Dashboard Light.

New Jersey’s decision to legislate Internet gambling is practical. They need the tax revenue generated by casinos.

As technology evolves so do peoples habits including entertainment. And gambling is big entertainment. With billions at stake along with tens of thousands of jobs, a black market and offshore betting reducing their market share who could argue with their business logic. New Jersey wants to continue to be a national trendsetter in legalized gambling. Their slogan could very well be “place your bet wherever you are.” All good for tourism, the hotel industry and tax revenue.

Seems that everyone is a winner. So what might be the problem?

Gambling is an addiction just as drugs and alcohol.

States now require mental health professionals to have a separate expertise and licensure in gambling addictions in recognition of its magnitude. So the Governor legalizes gambling whilst his Commissioner of Education mandates more professional training to help addicts.

The antidote to the illness a convenient response to an emerging problem.

Let’s raise highway speed limits to 100mph to be more fuel efficient and open emergency room kiosks in 20 mile intervals to triage crash victims. 

The compulsive gambler does not only gamble away his last dollar. He gambles and loses what he borrows from friends, what he steals from his employer, all he can run up on every credit card, he empties his savings, refinances his mortgage forging his wife’s signature, pawns his wife’s jewelry, breaks his children’s piggy bank to steal their $50 in nickels and dimes.

It all comes crashing down quickly when his access to money is closed, home bills can longer be hidden and he hasn’t slept in days desperate to place that next bet.

Speed limits at 35 or 60mph are imposed to keep the public safe. Airline pilots, air traffic controllers and emergency room doctors can only work a set number of hours to keep the public safe. Government does have a major role in public safety to reduce fatigue and poor judgment in areas that affect the public.     

Yet government is now opening the door with virtually no restrictions for that individual in the confines of his room, in the silence of his android, on his laptop at 30,000 ft. on a plane with wi-fi to place that bet. Seems that everyone’s a winner, casinos, tax collectors, tech game and mini bar manufacturers, gamblers, even specialists in gambling addictions get more business.

Can I introduce you to thousands of families who are now penniless, without their home, savings, father, husband, insolvent, a broken home, and a lonely addict.

But who can stand in the way of progress.

I wonder if government can add a 25th hour to the day?

About the Author
David Mandel is Chief Executive Officer of OHEL Children's Home and Family Services in New York