The Slots King

The gambling industry treats Sen. Steve Geller like royalty.

That's a tradition any decent public official would want to embrace. And why should the Mafia -- along with the Indian tribes -- be the only ones to profit from gambling? It's true that it's driven by the cheap and filthy dream of easy wealth and destroys lives. But shouldn't consenting adults be allowed to destroy themselves? That's the back edge of freedom, the razor-sharp side that slits our throats in the dark of night and, generally speaking, makes life interesting. Hiding from our weaknesses only makes those weaknesses stronger.

Geller and the industry he represents were smart enough, however, not to delve into the more complicated philosophical side of the debate. Instead, they draped the dirty business around the kids. Brilliant! Gambling businesses spent $7 million to pound the message home that this was all for the children. You saw those signs the pro-gambling campaigners put, um, everywhere. They said "Yes for Education and Jobs" and looked as if they'd been written in crayon by a third-grader.

You can hear it now:

Wife: Bill, it's so late -- and your eyes are all bloodshot. Tell me you haven't been back to the dog track and those machines.

Husband: I'm afraid I have, sweet muffin of mine.

Wife: Oh my God, no. No. No. Did you lose our mortgage money again? Did you?

Husband: Yes, honey, I did. But somebody has to do it. Who else will fund our schools? Sen. Geller is sacrificing for us, snuggums. Have you heard about those horrible 15-hour plane trips he takes? We need to help too. Little Johnny will learn to read, even if I have to put us out in the street to do it.

Sen. Geller has done his part. Now we need to get out to the dog tracks and the horseraces to do ours. Play the slots. Our future depends on it.

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