Friday, 9 April 2010

U.S. Licensing Slots

It used to be so easy when issues were black & white. Alcohol is an amazing example. If lawmakers choose alcohol is a bad thing, they can have Prohibition. This was tried in North The united states & failed. It continues to be successfully applied in Islamic countries where the public consumption of all alcoholic beverages is largely banned. But as they have moved through the 20th Century in the developed world, lots of people see shades of gray. Now there's two sides to every issue & this drives the way our media document the news. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Respect is the new game in town.

It should be easy to say which individuals or corporations are fit & proper people to run licensed betting in the US. But, when it comes to the amount of funds to set up sites for slot machines & then the potential for long-term profit, you are suddenly reduced to a select group of people who have the capital & the influence to get the licenses. If only this method worked well! As an example of the problems, let's go to Maryland where an "independent" commission awarded the first of two licenses to the operators of Ocean Downs, a racing track near Ocean City. The license allows the installation of 800 slot machines on the site. Except the operators have now made some exciting discoveries. It seems there is a small mountain of asbestos to be removed from the site as part of the rebuilding & renovation exercise. Better still, it seems the grandstand is likely to collapse soon. There is major corrosion in the steel holding it up. Put another way, the racing track should have been closed down years ago as dangerous for the public to use. The link between asbestos & malignant lung cancer is well-known. Gamblers at the racetrack have been breathing in the fibres for years. If the grandstand had collapsed, hundreds could have been injured. Yet this site was approved for 800 slots.

In most US states, lawmakers have been struggling with budget deficits for years. These problems are worse now the recession has arrived. The tax-take from conventional businesses & earned income has dropped with businesses failing & unemployment growing. As property values fall & rates of foreclosure increase, property taxes have also dropped. Lots of states reacted by taking designs to license slots off the back burner. They require to encourage you to spend what is left of your funds on betting. A tax on the gross revenue of the license holders then keeps the state solvent. But the story in some states gets dark & murky as political influence over the licensing method comes in to play.

Corruption comes in lots of forms. Some is serious, other less so. But the reality is that betting in general & slots in particular should be run by people who are obviously reliable. No matter how much states may require the additional funds from taxing betting, people's lives should not be put at risk. That is both in the physical sense of safety & in the economic sense - there's hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people who damage their own lives through a betting addiction. States should protect all their citizens from harm.


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