If you subscribe to or frequently check out Raleigh’s News & Observer, you probably saw the featured Sunday story that looked at casino gambling in Cherokee as well as the coming expansions and the efforts to introduce more of the same in South Carolina under the banner of the Catawba tribe. It was a good and well-written story — as far as it went.
Unfortunately, here’s the one hugely important item that you didn’t see anywhere in the lengthy and quite-thoroughly illustrated story: Any mention whatsoever of the the way that large and predatory gambling corporations exploit Native American tribes along with a huge proportion of the customers who visit the casinos.
One would think it might have occurred. After all, one of the Cherokee customers interviewed for the story admitted that he frequents Cherokee “42-44 weekends a year.” Good lord, what’s next? An upbeat profile of a regular slot machine player who shares a cheap hotel room with seven other people and frequents the local blood bank?
Not that it would be hard to find out the truth about the predations of the casino industry or the tribes and individuals it exploits. Les Bernal, the longtime executive director of the national nonprofit Stop Predatory Gambling (a group that does great work bringing together liberal and conservative gambling opponents) has been in North Carolina multiple times — including this summer — to speak out against the effort to create a Catawba Nation casino. Moreover, SPG’s website is chock full of stories and analyses detailing the disasters that predatory casino gambling typically begets. This is from a section devoted to Native American casinos:
The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act represents one of the biggest failures of U.S. policy in the last fifty years. Passed by Congress in 1988 under the guise of “economic development” for the country’s impoverished Native American tribes, IGRA has resulted in the transfer of tens of billions of dollars to casino operators while many Native Americans still remain in serious poverty. It also has been a driving force behind the massive expansion of predatory gambling that has overwhelmed the U.S. over the last twenty years.
Casinos are the most predatory business in the country and their business model is based on addiction and pushing people into debt – a truth that remains unchanged regardless whether they are commercial casinos or Native American casinos.
You can also check out a long list of myths about the benefits of casino gambling by clicking here.
Unfortunately, for whatever, reason, Sunday’s story only shined a light on one corner of what is actually an enormously complex and multifaceted issue that features a giant and extremely troubling dark side. One can only hope that the next such story will be a little more complete.