Thursday 05 June 1997
As it happens, a new focus on gambling, by way of a federal commission, is gripping the United States. Already there has been a lot of sniping and snarling by rival forces, in setting up this investigation. The anti- gambling coalition sees the commission as a chance to roll back the tide of commercial gambling which has swept the country; on the other side, the gaming industry is determined to protect its interests and thwart proposals for new taxes. The commission is supposed to be exploratory only, rather than prescribing a cure-all. But the debate over the two- year study, for and against gambling, is bound to be tense.
The obvious risk is that instead of shedding light on the social and economic repercussions of gambling, the commission will grind itself down in "semantic prestidigitation" (to borrow Ms Ann Widdecombe's fine phrase). The leader of the anti-gambling forces is Rev Thomas Grey, a Methodist minister from Illinois, who sees the campaign as a kind of rerun of the Vietnam war, in which he served. The industry's spokesman, on a big salary, is Frank Fahrenkopf, a former Republican National committee chairman and Nevada lawyer. The commission itself is nicely balanced: two members are Christian activists, one member is a casino bigshot and another a gaming regulator, one is a union leader and another a businessman; the others are supposed to hold neutral views.
The drama will come in public hearings across the country, in which opponents of gambling (so the industry fears) will be able to sound off and vent their prejudices at length. "The main purpose," according to congressman Frank Wolf, a noted critic of gambling who pushed for the commission, "is to put attention on gambling and get information out." If that happens, the gaming industry stands to gain far more than than it will lose, in improving public understanding of its role. Casinos are legal in 22 states, 36 states have lotteries, and the public wagers (legally) more than $550bn a year.
Life & Style blogs
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
Paris Fashion Week: Skirting the issue for the stylish boys' brigade
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
Miss Universe 2015: A beefeater, a yellow tree and an entire hockey game - the bizarre national costumes
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
- 1 Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors: 'I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK'
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
- 4 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 5 Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding business...
£25000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Based in Henley-on-Thames, this...
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...