Daraz: Casinos not worth the gamble

Daraz argues that Philadelphia should avoid further casino construction to hinder rapid deterioration.

Rose Daraz

Rose DarazPhiladelphia used to be known and revered for its rich history, beautiful architecture, fascinating arts and delicious cuisine, but I’m beginning to worry that the city will soon become widely known as poverty stricken, corrupt and dangerous instead. We have allowed the city to deteriorate. And as this deterioration begins, casinos flourish.

Currently, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has received six proposals for a second gaming license within Philadelphia, which means that a new casino will most likely open in the near future. This is just after SugarHouse opened within the city limits in September 2010 and two casinos — Harrah’s Philadelphia and Parx — opened right outside the city in 2007 and 2009, respectively.

Frankly, casinos are a detriment to our fair city overall and to college students specifically.

Casinos are a profit-driven industry. The fact that there are so many proposals fighting for gaming licenses in Philadelphia means that business is more than good. In fact, according to a USA Today article by Matt Villano titled “Philadelphia emerges as East Coast gambling hub,” Philadelphia represents a huge chunk of the national gambling revenue. Citing Director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas David Schwartz, the article states:  “11 licensed casino operators in Pennsylvania cleared $3.5 billion in gambling revenue in 2011 — a figure second only to establishments in Nevada, which cleared $10.7 billion.”

Most people with full-time jobs don’t have money to blow, at least in this economy. That holds especially true for college students. But that doesn’t stop some from remaining hopeful and using whatever money they have to try and win big at a casino. You know; the business that derives its profits from making sure that exact thing doesn’t happen.

Regardless of wins and losses, the possibility of a person — students included — getting hooked and beginning to gamble religiously is very real. Gambling can become such a severe addiction that people like Steve Salvatore, the medical correspondent for CNN, have even likened its strength to that of alcoholism.

To make matters worse, according to MayoClinc.com, gambling addiction tends to form in the late teenage years, which just so happens to be when young adults are heading off to college for the first time. Just a quick look at some of the symptoms — a list that includes lying to hide gambling, borrowing or stealing money to gamble, revolving your life around gambling and getting a thrill from taking big gambling risks — reveals how damaging it can be to a student’s relationships, aspirations and overall academic life.

A major reason that this addiction could be harmful is that compulsive gambling often turns people into criminals. According to “Pathological gambling: A review of the literature,” an article published in the Journal of Gambling Studies by Henry R. Lesieur and Richard J. Rosenthal, approximately two-thirds of compulsive gamblers admit to having committed crimes to help finance their addictions.

That is not to say that everything about the casinos is inherently bad. They can bring an influx of potential jobs that will be available for students and other city residents to take. Obviously, this is quite a good thing.

But considering all the negative repercussions casinos also tend to bring, it hardly seems like it’s worth it. The city would be better off searching for job creation through some other industry.

Philadelphia has suffered enough. Instead of bringing in more crime and corruption, we must concentrate on bettering the city. Opening up more casinos will only make the deterioration of Philadelphia more rapid. Gambling might be fun and capable of relieving stress, but the trouble it brings drastically outweighs the few benefits.

Rose Daraz can be reached at rose.daraz@temple.edu.

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