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Gambling



     Jaqui White loves her little corner of Texas, warts and all. She lives in Port Isabel, which has become a resort town in the middle of an area inhabited by impoverished Mexicans. I refuse to go there because of a municipal ordinance banning my constitutional right to wear a necktie. She writes:
     Gambling is beyond my ken. I cannot imagine anything in which I have less interest; however, I have come to realize that there is a very large group of individuals who enjoy it immensely. We have a new gambling ship, the Casino del Mar, 420-foot, with a capacity of 1200 eager gamblers. Her maiden voyage was October 1st. It is announced today that we have a SECOND gambling vessel, 202-foot The Casino Padre with a capacity of 500, which arrived two days ago, and will begin operations the 15th of November, the gambling gods willing. Keep in mind that we are the least affluent area of the country. These ships will appeal particularly to the residents of Mexico, and to the visitors from the cold states to the north who spend six months here during the winter.
     The vessels have to go out beyond the 12 mile limit, which takes about half an hour. They leave the dock at 6PM and return at one AM. The gamblers are complaining that they are not out long enough. An excellent dinner and brunch are served by a marvelous staff, and for those who do not choose to spend their time in the absolutely packed casino there are several decks to wander enjoying the breezes of the Gulf of Mexico and the velvet starry and moony skies.
     I do not feel that Las Vegas should be thought of as a den of iniquity, since it has become a major entertainment area for families, with wonderful entertainment, viewing of the famed white tigers, and marvelously creative malls and hotels. Las Vegas seems to appeal to all ages - a couple here fly there every two months and they are in their late-80's. People who have chosen to live in Las Vegas (again, of all ages, many retirees) adore it - marvelous weather, schools, amenities, much of which is due to the income from the casinos. Most of them never go to the casinos, but find it an excellent place in which to raise their families.
     Finally, the new owners will soon re-open the Greyhound Racing Track. It closed several years, and ever since has been besieged with requests for its reopening.
     I think we should re-name our little village Sodom and Gomorra.
     My response: Gambling has become a sickness in the United States, bringing wealth to a few and misery to many. I would like to have a serious study of who the gamblers Jaqui mentions are, where they come from, the impact on the masses of the population, and ties to organized crime.
     The Mexican people are suffering hell because of earthquakes and floods. If the gamblers had any conscience, they would be trying to help them.
     As for Las Vegas, greyhound racing is another pretext for gambling, and a proof that the old attraction remains, only more so. I would not want to bring up children there. Nor do I think that a high-speed train to Las Vegas was thought to be profitable because of the children. As for the amenities Jaqui mentions, I must find out where Las Vegas rates in the quality of living indexes; certainly nowhere near the top. There are serious studies of the evil social effects of gambling.
     One of my most depressing moments was visiting the casino in Viņa del Mar, Chile. A lot of old men and women were crouched around the gambling wheel, desperately watching it turn around. Empty lives.

Ronald Hilton - 10/8/99


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