Casino benefits outweigh problems

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    Ding ding ding, jackpot. This is something that casino-goers wish to hear every time they walk through the doors of a casino. It’s also a sound some states have heard after legalizing casino gambling.Certain states, including Oklahoma and Louisiana, where casino gambling is legal, have increased revenue for improvements in education and other state-funded programs. There have always been arguments for and against the idea of legalization of casino gambling. Many of these arguments can be boiled down to money (revenue generated by casinos) versus risk (negative impact on families and communities). When it comes down to it, the benefits outweigh the costs.

    The revenue argument claims that money generated from casino gambling would do Texas much good, and that the state is losing loads of revenue to casinos just outside the border. According to a Jan. 16 article on casinocitytimes.com, “With Mexico’s entry into casino gambling and with at least four facilities planned along the Texas-Mexico border, more than 35 gaming sites are now within 50 miles of the state’s boundaries.”

    That’s a lot of casinos, each of which is generating revenue for the state (or country) where it is located.

    Many argue that revenue from casinos could be used for educational funding. There are more than a few lobbyists on this side of the debate, including Kinky Friedman, independent gubernatorial candidate, and they’re putting pressure on Texans to legalize gambling, citing the potential revenue that would be generated.

    At the same time, there are many citizens and lobbyists on the other end of the spectrum who would hate to see casino gambling legalized. This side of the argument is based on the social and economic costs casinos can have on individuals, families and society in general. In a Nov. 28, 2005 article on dailytexanonline.com, Matthew Nickson says of the issue: “The point is casino gambling has unacceptably high social costs. History and statistical proof establish that increased crime, drug and gambling addiction rates, prostitution, blight and alcoholism are its nefarious progeny.”

    But do these problems follow casinos, or are they problems of individuals who do not have the self-control to keep themselves from falling prey to numerous vices? Some argue that casinos provide an environment where partaking in vices is not only condoned, but sometimes encouraged. Many think otherwise.

    Thomas Pressly, a freshman political science major, doesn’t necessarily think problems follow casinos.

    “I think that the social issues are apparent, but being from Shreveport, La., I can say that casinos have not changed the city for the worst. The benefits from revenue most certainly outweigh the negative aspects, especially since most of the revenue generated from casinos in Louisiana goes to education.”

    It’s anyone’s guess when, or even if, Texas will legalize casino gambling. However, Pressly thinks that Texas will adopt casinos.

    “Texas will legalize gambling in the next ten years, and a large portion of the revenue generated from it will go to improving education, as it does in Louisiana. The revenue will help the education problem, but it will not fix it entirely,” he said.

    Improvements in education mean people get better education at better prices, which is hard to argue with. As far as the negative impact casinos can have on a community, a better-educated population should have a better sense of how to deal with the problems that casinos might create.

    When it comes down to it, casino gambling could help fund improvements in education. It could also create some social and economic problems for families and communities. If casino gambling is legalized, it will be up to the people of this great state to decide whether or not they are going to let the negative aspects outweigh the benefits.

    Dan Plate is a freshman business major from Ogallala, Nebr.