Casino Culture and the Collapse of Character


“You can dress a casino up to look like a family resort. You can disguise a casino as a high-end hotel. Nevertheless, the casino remains what it is — an engine for capturing wealth from those who are enticed to enter. State governments that authorize casino gambling are also authorizing the fleecing of their own citizens.

Most casinos, of course, are not dressed up at all. They stand as blights on the American landscape, with garish neon lights and huge parking lots. In truth, they look like what they are — destinations for the desperate or for those whose idea of the high life involves spending hours in the chaos and carnival atmosphere of the casino.

Worst of all, the casino is a symbol of cultural decay and the death of character. A vain hope for a windfall draws those desperate for a jackpot. A government assigned the task of protecting its citizens willingly entices them to engage in games of risk. A culture that requires basic virtues such as industriousness and thrift and prudence preys on its own people by attracting them into the casino.

In the final analysis, the greatest danger posed by the casino is not anything that can be determined by economic analysis, because the greatest injury caused by gambling is not financial — it is moral. The worst aspect of the casino culture is not just that the state has decided to prey on its own citizens, but that it has decided to do so with gusto. The rise of the casino goes hand in hand with the collapse of character.”

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