Problem gambling isn’t kid’s play

A quick and emphatic link to Joni Balter’s column in today’s Seattle Times: “I-892: a game of chance we should walk away from.” Joni describes an extraordinary documentary film made by students at Shorewood High School, that shows underage teenagers — some as young as 12 — gambling at local card rooms.

According to a 1999 WA Lottery Commission study, more than 1 in 12 teenagers in Washington state is a problem gambler… a higher percentage than the adult population. As access to gambling increases, so does addiction. Indeed, a national study shows that people living within 50 miles of a casino have twice the incidence of problem gambling.

Initiative 892 would put 18,255 slot machines into over 2000 locations, scattered through nearly every community in the state, putting all our families at risk.


  1. 1

    Daryn spews:

    Ok,…in a nut shell. The biggest ooposers to 892 appear to be the Native American population. Of course they do not want it to pass. It would take away their monopoly of electronic gaming. Now, gamblers are going to gamble regardless if yu me or the fence post like it or not. The tribes of Washington know this and continue to build and expand their casinos. the same casinos that do not pay taxes and are not fully regulated by the state’s gaming commision. the state regulated card rooms pay state and local taxes and are forced to compete against a legal monopoly due to the fact that many of our political leaders have invested money in these tribal gaming establishments. The kick backs for campaigning must be nice when a bank of ten nickle machines can net over 1.5 million dollars annually. Now on to your kid’s play story.

    I know for a fact that card room dealers are held accountable if they deal a hand to a minor. It icludes a hefty fine and a suspension. That is card rooms off tribal land. A stamp system has been put in place to determine if a player is old enough to gamble but not old enough to consume alcohol. the legal gambling age in the state is 18 however, most state card rooms only allow 19 and above as they do not want students ditching school to play cards. If you have a problem with the age a person is allowed to gamble then you might want to talk to your nations president about how young a person must be to die for their country. Let’s see…18?

    I892 is a good thing for anyone who owns property in the state. Olympia needs money and the working folks like myself are tired of being taxed into poverty. Washington state has some of the highest and lagest quantity of taxes known to man. But, we love our state and are happy to pay them as long as we can afford them. I892 is a great way for the state government to turn to a new entity for the money it needs to function. Cardrooms, bars, and bingo halls can now flip a good part of the bill without doing any more damage than has already being done. Gamblers will gamble wether we like it or not. And I’m not about to tell another human being that they must be held to the same standards I hold on myself. If you decide to go play a card game after reading this I say thankyou for helping to pay my property taxes. If you choose to vote No on I892 because you don’t condone gambling I say,” The tribes of Washington thankyou for your Untaxable donation.”

  2. 2

    Goldy spews:

    Daryn… I don’t know where to start.

    First of all, you ignore the story I’m commenting on.. that there is DOCUMENTARY VIDEO of underage gambling, as young as 12-years-old, at cardrooms in WA state! This is a fact! Furthermore, you may ASSUME that there are fines and suspensions for violating the law regarding underage gambling, in fact, the Gambling Commission has NO SET PENALTY for such violations. Yes, they can suspend your license. But they never have. Underage gambling is a problem, whether you want to believe it or not.

    Second… yes, the bulk of the MONEY opposing I-892 is coming from the tribes, and admittedly for selfish reasons. But the reasons are no more selfish than that of the Nevada and Canadian gambling conglomerates financing I-892. But opposition to I-892 is broad, and includes a coalition of unlikely foes, including conservative and liberal church groups, labor, civic activists, and prominent Republicans like Norm Maleng. While I am not officially part of the “No on I-892″ campaign, I see no shame in them getting their financing from the tribes.

    Third… you clearly do not understand the economic models behind gambling expansion. Gambling in general, and problem gambling in particular, increases as access to gambling increases. Currently, slot machines are limited to a handful of tribal casinos, but I-892 would put 18,255 slot machines into over 2000 locations scattered through nearly every community in the state. By the time the tribes and the commercial gambling industry build out their allotments, we’ll have as many slot machines as Atlantic City! In fact, only Nevada, New Jersey and Louisiana will have more gambling than WA state. Yet a 1999 national study shows that those living within 50 miles of a casino have TWICE the incidence of problem gambling. (And a bank of 10 nickel machines does not earn $1.5 million a year, even by Eyman’s inflated estimates. If you’re going to throw numbers at me, please back it up.)

    Finally, I-892 does not provide meaningful property tax relief. About $26 on a $200K home after the first few years, and even by the most optimistic estimates, no more than twice that, at the saturation point. That said, WA is NOT a high tax state. Even, which Eyman is always citing, says:

    Washington’s local property taxes are 35th highest in the nation by the per capita measure and 41st highest as a percentage of income.

    And finally, I-892 is NOT “revenue neutral” as Eyman claims. It will cost state and local government $70 million a year just in lost revenue from other forms of gambling, not to mention tens of millions more from are taxable activities. And problem gambling already costs taxpayers nearly $100 million a year, and will increase with gambling.

    This is a bad initiative anyway you look at it.