We’ll give you that our view on state-sponsored gambling is old-fashioned, maybe paternalistic, certainly not in-vogue libertarian. But we’re opposed to government entities making a buck on what is always, always a sucker’s game.
You can’t beat the house when you gamble because if everyone beat the odds there would be no house, there would be no profit, there’d be no sucker to exploit. And excuse us for believing fervently and sincerely that the role of government is to offer support to citizens not to take a cut of their being fleeced.
So we don’t support the state lottery, even with all the balderdash that it supports public education. We don’t support the boats with their decidedly unglamorous clientele pumping money into the slots. And, so, no we don’t support the Village of Forest Park allowing video gambling along Madison Street and making a nickel off it.
Beyond the moral argument, though, we have other reasons for strongly urging Forest Parkers to vote “Yes” next Tuesday in the advisory referendum on video gambling. Remember, a “Yes” vote is counter-intuitively a vote against video gambling.
If Forest Park has a defining feather in its cap it is the reinvention over 15 years of Madison Street. From a declining strip of antique/junk shops, storefront offices and a batch of neighborhood bars, Madison Street has been nurtured and jump-started into a notable destination for dining and shopping and, sure, drinking. Madison Street is wonderfully not only the comfortable main street for Forest Park’s evolving hometown folks, but a go-to spot for immediate neighbors from Oak Park and River Forest and then, beyond that to city dwellers eager to discover something new.
This is a creation that has both magic and the magic of hard work in combination. We think Madison Street is both durable and fragile as all retail and dining destinations are. Tampering with what has been built in order to allow video gambling and the few pennies of profit it might produce for village government is just a sucker’s bet.
We understand the motivation of local bar owners to create a new revenue stream. We sort of understand the argument that if Forest Park says no and Berwyn says yes to video gambling that some small percentage of customers might do their drinking there, for at least, a while.
First we’d say that if we are going to lose a slice of the customer base it might as well be those who want to lose their money to a machine while they drink. We’d also suggest that, at best, video gambling is a short-term bet. This is not going to last as a phenomenon. So let’s let it pass.
Finally we’d say that while it is certainly the role of government to support the efforts of local businesses, the broader responsibility of the government is to look out for the long and wide interests of all residents. And video gambling is not a long-term benefit to our community.
Please, vote “Yes.”