Gambling money needs to stay here

Published 11:59 pm Friday, April 17, 2009

It is not easy to disagree in a public forum with the County Republican Party and its chairman William Blocker. I have been a member of the GOP for a half-century and I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Blocker since his arrival here in Covington County a few years back. He has my everlasting respect for his service to our nation, state and county and he is a man called friend.

However, gambling is the issue and I, for one, think I have a right as an American citizen to spend my disposable income in any manner I choose. The biggest gamble I ever made was buying a farm, and my mother, along with many others, applauded the decision even though I could have lost a good-sized bundle. There are very few actions we can take in life that don’t require risk and, of course if we succeed, reward. It is the “American dream” at work!

Almost everyone in Alabama lives within 100 miles of the three casinos in our state. Those who live along the borders have many gambling attractions in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Mississippi. We have dog tracks, etc., right here at home. Oh, and what about the Internet? Essentially, gambling is already available to all of our citizens. The only question is, which state will reap the benefits from our citizens enjoying, to the majority who participate, an affordable pastime?

Only 1.5 percent of the 4.5 million gambling Alabamians are addicted to the point of disfurnishing themselves and their families. The best estimate is that approximately half the people do not gamble at all — except perhaps on farms or businesses.

The bottom line for me is simple. We cannot pass a law to stop the addicts — they are going to play, even if it is smoke-filled back rooms of bars, barns or other facilities where the house rules are really set against them. We don’t need a law to protect the vast majority of our betting citizens. And finally, state regulated, honest gaming will keep Alabama money in Alabama rather than just filling the pockets of Indian casinos or the surrounding states.

The outflow of money to the above entities cannot be curbed, so let’s allow gambling and keep Alabama money in Alabama and then raise Hell with the legislature over how those revenues are spent.

Jim Bundy