Machines in the Trump Taj Mahal
provided courtesy of Mark Pellegrini, GFDL)
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.