Thank you Peter Callaghan of the Tacoma News Tribune for covering the State Senate hearing on problem gambling, that curiously refused to hear from the state’s leading problem gambling advocate, Jennifer McCausland. [Her gamble was to talk tough to legislators on treatment bill]
All the players were at the meeting of the Senate Commerce and Trade Committee. The directors of the state lottery, gambling and horse racing commissions were invited. So were the experts in the field of addiction treatment. The tribes had representatives at the table. So did the minicasinos, the charitable gambling folks and Emerald Downs.
The only person not invited was the woman most responsible for the meeting.
But then, who better to represent the interests of problem gamblers than the businesses that profit most from their addiction?
By some estimates, as much as 50% of gambling industry profits come from the 5% of the population classified as problem or pathological gamblers. So of course, these are the people Senator Jim Honeyford (the legislator a gambling industry trade journal dubbed “the best bet for expanding gambling in Washington“) relies on to create a plan for treating and preventing this devastating addiction.
I don’t know how many times I’ve heard Tim Eyman defend I-892 (Slots for Tots) by calling gambling a “voluntary” tax that people choose to pay. That is simply a load of crap.
Slot machines are scientifically designed to create compulsion, and the entire gambling business model is built on enabling problem gamblers and exploiting their weaknesses. In that respect, there is little to distinguish a casino from a corner crack dealer.
The gambling industry doesn’t want to prevent problem gambling… it’s their bread and butter. And by relying on the foxes to guard the hen house, Senator Honeyford apparently isn’t too concerned about preventing problem gambling either.