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.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
Life & Style blogs
Ebola outbreak: Survivor William Pooley is flown to US to give doctor with virus emergency blood transfusion
Jennifer Lawrence nude pictures leaked: Reddit removes 'The Fappening' board dedicated to sharing naked pictures of celebrities
Tezenis removes 'crime scene' pants from Oxford Street store after backlash over 'rape' connotations
iOS 8: 6 reasons you might want to hold off updating
Olympic diver Tom Daley makes his modelling debut for Adidas
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
- 2 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 3 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 4 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
- 5 Have you heard about the film Singapore has banned its people from watching? Well, you have now
£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a full...
Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job We are currently recruit...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Crawley: Randstad Education can provide you wit...