"Reservation-shopping." That's what some gambling critics are calling the effort by the North Fork Rancheria band of Mono indians to build a $250 million casino on purchased property some forty miles from their tribal land.
And, perhaps that's what it is. To be fair, they don't have much of a reservation to speak of; apparently their property was taken some years back by the State. They're left with 40 acres in some backwoods in the foothills-hardly enough to build a casino.
But what of this idea, allowing Indian tribes to purchase land, making it "de-facto" reservation land, and thereby qualifying it for a casino? I didn't know it was allowed; apparently it is. And apparently it happens; quite often.
This one, though, is a hot one. The tribe has purchased 305 acres of land outside of Madera, CA, right along side Highway 99-a main traffic artery that runs the length of the state. They plan to build a massive Vegas style resort/casino on the property. And there a numerous folks who are incensed about it--for various reasons. Some because it's alongside a major highway. There's this fear that the highway will, over time, turn into a string of gambling establishments--an image California has tried long and hard to avoid (we'd much rather plant trashy $49/night Motel 6's alongside our highways here in Cali). Others say that it should be on THEIR land. Well, the truth is, our government TOOK their land, and gave them nothing in return. The least our government can do is give them a bit of an opportunity. There are some who worry about the traffic implications. Those folks have obviously never driven in Los Angeles, or San Francisco, or even Sacramento. If we're going to apply the "don't build it it'll cause congestion" standard to the areas surrounding our freeways, then we better get started, 'cuz we've got a lot of demolition to do in those cities.
But then there are some who are against it because "gambling's wrong." These are the people who truly amaze me. I, frankly, just do not understand this position.
They say you lose your money gambling, that it's a game of chance, and the "casino always wins in the end." All true. If that's the case, then, I'm hereby proposing a ban on all Hannah Montana concerts (not that I don't like Hannah Montana; I do. Lex would kill me if I didn't). But, if you pay the going rate for a pair of secondary-market tickets to see Hannah Montana (that is, the average rate for tickets to one of the concerts on her last tour), you'd be shelling out around $700.
My problem with that is that, in this situation, Hannah Montana always wins. She's guaranteed to get her $700 (that is, assuming she's the one who sold you the tickets). It's CERTAINLY not a game of chance: you have NO CHANCE whatsoever of getting any of your money back, so your chances are zero. In fact, if you think about it, you have a GREATER chance of walking away with some, or all, of your money if you take it all to Vegas, and put it on red at the roullette table (50/50 odds on red-I think), than if you drop in to see Hannah and friends.
The simple truth is, its a form of entertainment. And yes, it's a game of chance, but you have BETTER chances in roullete than you do going to see Hannah Montana. So if you're willing to chance losing it all, and you enjoy doing it, why is gambling so bad?
The truth is, I think gambling should be legalized across the board. Let anyone who wants to build a casino, build one anywhere they want to--just like a grocery store or a barber. And be rid of this atrocious monopoly on gaming that the Indians have.
Not that I'm a gambler; I'm not, I've never gambled. But it is, in it's simplest form, entertainment for it's participants. So, unless you're willing to be rid of the bowling alleys, the concerts, the golf courses and the movie theaters, we can't really apply that "it's bad for you" philosophy to gambling in an effort to restrict it from happening.
So I say, bring it on. Bring more of 'em. I welcome them!