Casino cocaine collapse

Andrew Barbano, a 32-year Nevada resident, is editor of

The gambling industry dominated this year’s state legislative sessions and again reduced Nevada to the level of a Confederate-era southern plantation. What little tribute remained unwrested from lawmaker or governor, the casinos extracted from the Nevada Supreme Court.

The industry’s control of our lives remains complete. Will it take a civil war or slave revolt to break the stranglehold? No. This empire will collapse under the weight of its own greed. Not all at once. It will erode over time and cyberspace, a process already begun right here in River City.

Politicians love gambling as voluntary taxation of someone else’s constituents. However, once casinos mostly pirate the pockets of local residents, new bans will result. “When gambling is everywhere, it will be nowhere,” industry expert I. Nelson Rose says.

Organized gambling lusts to take its predations worldwide via the Internet. This year, Nevada became the first state to legalize gambling online. Some Nevada casinos already offer non-money or prize-only games on experimental Web sites. MGM/Mirage recently applied for a Web license on the Isle of Man off the coast of England.

“If we were to decide to regulate interactive gambling, we’d only be able to take bets from international and Nevada-based gamblers,” said Nevada Gaming Commission chair and attorney general candidate Brian Sandoval last week. “We have to respect the sovereignty of the other 49 states.”

Oh? What about the guy who bets from a home computer directly to a satellite? No wires. No crossing state lines.

Nevada’s overlords not only want to control Web wagering, they want the Silver State to remain the only place allowing sports betting. Nevada sports books grease the wheels of illegal betting all over the globe, as two-time Pulitzer Prize winners Donald Barlett and James Steele pointed out in their Time magazine exposé awhile back. Sports books are currently carpet-bombing the U.S. Congress with cash to keep themselves too legit to quit.

By getting so greedy, the gambling industry brings the sunset onto itself. The proliferation of Internet wagering will hasten an erosion of support. More and more people will revolt over family ruination via the computer in the bedroom.

Bans will begin with no legislation, a result of increased societal pressure. That’s what happened 100 years ago with another addiction.

Usage of cocaine peaked at the turn of the last century. Coca-Cola replaced cocaine with caffeine in 1903. The first federal ban came three years later.

Gambling will also be replaced.

“Reno is changing from a gambling town to a town with gambling,” a longtime local attorney recently observed. Hotels, gambling and recreation now constitute only about 18 percent of the jobs in Washoe County. This area thus stands well-prepared to weather any future prohibition or Nevada-financed California competition.

When gambling is everywhere, it will be nowhere. For once, we’ll be ready.

Be well. Raise hell.