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Slot Machines in the Trump Taj Mahal
(Photo provided courtesy of Mark Pellegrini,

Slot Machines 

Gambling, in all of its forms, was frowned upon if not actually forbidden by the rabbinic authorities of the ages. Gambling for money was viewed in the Talmud as a form of thievery, since the loser never really makes peace with the losses that were sustained and does not forgive or forget the winner. People who were professional gamblers were disqualified by rabbinic law from being accepted as legitimate witnesses in a Jewish court of law. They were categorized by the rabbis as being unfit for testimony since they "did nothing to promote the benefit of society." Gambling on the sporting events of the time - pigeon races is the example used by the Mishna - was also forbidden as being counterproductive to the society's true welfare. -- Rabbi Berel Wein

Are gambling casinos really a good deal for Pennsylvania? The supposed benefits of casinos are property tax reduction and urban redevelopment. However, most school districts have opted out of the tax reduction plan, and casinos are a dubious use for prime urban parcels or waterfront property in

Gambling on slot machines is a mindless numbing exercise, in contrast to other forms of entertainment which encourage skill, culture, thought, and creativity. Other industries produce something of value, but slot machines just transfer money from frequently poor gamblers to billionaire casino owners, while possibly returning a little bit to placate taxpayers.

The Philadelphia Inquirer recently reported (Dec. 28, 2005, Jan. 10, 2006) that political insiders including friends of the governor and the legislature are already trying to corner a piece of Pennsylvania's nascent gambling industry. The potential for corruption is great. Considering the
unceasing misconduct of politicians involved with existing activities (no-bid contracts, parking authority, port authority, airport, Penn's Landing, etc.), you can bet that corruption will flourish, as it has
elsewhere, once casinos are built.

The public was not given the opportunity to vote on gambling. Casinos were promoted by the governor and approved by our state legislature. Before slot machines are irreversibly introduced, the citizens of Pennsylvania should be given a chance to vote.

Ron Bihovsky