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The Slots: Salvation or Damnation?

About the advent of Vegas-style slots at Gulfstream Park yesterday: I'm not against them. I believe in liberty and that means if some cunning folks create a box with enough bells and whistles on it that people want to sit before it like mugwumps to throw their money inside then so be it.

But it's basically a sad endeavor, in my opinion. A waste of life and money. One of the sorriest human activities imaginable (unlike games like poker and blackjack that have a skill level to them).

That's one reason why I've always found it suspect that Sun-Sentinel columnist Mike Mayo has made the slots his No. 1 crusade in life, writing column after column demanding the machines to be installed in Broward County as if it were a religious calling. But it's not just Mayo, it's both the Sentinel and Miami Herald. Obviously, the rulers of both are big believers

in slot machines. Reporters Jon Burstein and Jamie Malernee led their story this morning:

"She stood in front of the $5 Double Diamond slot machine, her eyes locked on the whizzing reels, and $1,300 in her pocket ready to gamble. Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino had been open for 30 minutes, and she had just won $215 on a single spin."

The Herald's Jennifer Lebovich opened her story in similar fashion:

"Charlie Smigrod made $560 during his lunch break Wednesday. It wasn't from sealing a business deal or getting a bank loan. He got lucky on a virgin 50-cent slot machine on opening day of Las Vegas-style gambling at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino."

My God, run to Gulfstream right now, the ledes collectively say -- everybody's getting rich!

Nothing about gambling addiction, nothing about the fact that this shit ruins lives, nothing about the fact that 90 percent of them will lose their money.

But the similarities between the two stories doesn't end with their ledes. Out of the hundreds of people who lined up for the machines, a 66-year-old named Doris Keeps somehow wound up being featured in both newspapers. Maybe she was the only one who could still speak while spiritually tethered to the machines.

She told Burstein and Malernee: "I worked all my life. I worked for Ford Motor Co. for 30 years. It's my time now. If I lose, I lose. If I win, I win. You don't have many years to go when you are my age."

Yep, so you might as well drain what's left of your miserable life into a glittering metal machine.

While Lebovich stuck solely with the positive side of slot machines, the Sentinel at least mentioned that people were losing money. One woman, Kathy Lisseter, lost $2,500. One couple had dropped $1,300 in a couple of hours, but were still "grinning ear to ear."

Grinning while they lose their money and their souls. Wonder if the same can be said or Broward County?

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman

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