FITSNews had a post up yesterday concerning Sen. Robert Ford's support for bringing back video poker. In it, FITS proposed legalizing all gambling in SoutH Carolina, albeit just along the coast. The coastal limitation is one we've heard time and time again, alleging it would somehow prohibit too many Sandlappers from becoming degenerate gamblers.
The BTPC has long been a proponent of legalizing gambling. We have long felt that South Carolina is literally throwing away billions of potential revenue every year by failing to see the light on two simple facts. First, no amount of laws will ever actually keep people from gambling, therefore the State is simply allowing the gambling industry to be an "underground" economy that contributes nothing to the kitty, yet taxes our treasury through enforcement of the laws prohibiting gambling.
Second, South Carolina's potential gaming industry would be HUGE. Think Vegas-East with beaches and Waffle Houses. Easily accessible by folks in Atlanta, Raleigh, Nashville, Richmond, DC, Baltimore, Philly, Jersey, Connecticut and NY by car or short (& cheap!) plane rides. Hell...this could, alone, save Amtrak!
So our answer to the state's economic woes is to acknowledge reality (we know...something difficult for most in this state), take the bull by the horns, and dive head-first into a legalized gambling economy before one of our neighbor states beats us to it. (We would like to point out that this "solution" comes almost a year after we "solved" the economic woes of the Pee Dee).
So why has South Carolina blindly refused to see the light? Is it because we're a state dominated by the GOP, our country's "conservative" party? Well...that wouldn't make sense. Not if you look at the holy grail of true conservatism: taxes. Nevada has no personal or corporate income tax. The out-of-state money the casinos bring in allows Nevada this luxury. Wouldn't that be nice here?
So if it's not fiscal conservatism, what is it? Two reasons.
The first reason is evident in FITS' proposal. Given that an area like Greenville is just a hop-skip-and-jump from Atlanta and Asheville via interstate, why on earth would any sane person want to legalize gambling for casinos and not place some there? The reason for this is simple. It's got nothing to do with limiting the proliferation of degenerate gamblers and everything to do with stroking the ego of self-righteous blowhards, better known as, the Bob Jones crowd.
In our former life, we spent a little time in Greenville, an area of South Carolina that we thoroughly enjoyed. Right at the foothills to the Appalachians, near Atlanta and Asheville, Greenville sits as our answer to the Raleigh-area. The progress they've made creating a vibrant & hip downtown, combined with the economic opportunities presented to those with higher education make Greenville an enticing alternative to young professionals who want to live somewhere similar to Charlotte and Atlanta but who want the most bang for their buck. Throw in the natural wonders the region offers and you have to ask, "Why in the hell would this not be the perfect place for a casino?" Because that area is rife with the self-righteous indignation percolated by BJU. We saw it first hand. We worked in our former profession in Charleston and Columbia and never had the problems with religious conservatives that we experienced in Greenville. Seriously...that contributed in no small part to us leaving the area, not to mention going into another career, that's how tiresome it grew.
So when you hear that gambling should be restricted to the coast, that's why. The nonsense about limiting the spread of addictive gambling is hogwash. It's pandering to the religious right. We've got a system in place to deal with degenerate gamblers: our family court system. That's right, we could simply allow people to petition the court to have a degenerate gambler declared a spendthrift by the local family court. If the court finds enough evidence to so rule, they issue an order that is distributed to all gambling establishments along with description and photos of that person. If Degenerate Dad then decides to stop off at the casino and blow the whole paycheck gambling, Mom could haul his ass AND the casino into court and the Court could lock Dad up and fine the hell out of the casino (a portion of which would go to the family).
You don't think gambling interests would take that deal to open up an entire southeastern coastal state? You don't think they could handle it? CASINO SECURITY CAN KEEP YOU FROM DOING MATH IN YOUR HEAD. If they can do that, they can keep your baby's mama from blowing the check on slots.
The second reason is something all South Carolinians are familiar with: protecting your turf. Myrtle Beach has basically been run for over a century by one large real estate development company, Burroughs & Chapin. We have heard opinions in the past from those in the development game that if B&C had anything to say about it, casinos would NEVER come to SC. Why? Because B&C likes being at the top of the food chain. You allow casinos to come in and all of a sudden you have HUGE financial interests looking to shoehorn their way onto our coast. One rumor going around was that some of the original financiers behind the Hard Rock Park got involved solely because they were led to believe that casino gambling had a shot a coming. Once they waded into the good-ole-boy system of politics here in SC, they realized how stacked the deck was against them and they bailed.
Someone needs to explain to all the churches in this state how much they stand to gain in money AND influence if gambling is legalized. Think of the fund raising opportunities inherent with battling such sin in your own back yard! "Out demon. Out I say! Demon of Dice...leave this man of God be!"
And to the locals who fear losing some of their power, no worries. Remember, even two heavyweights like the two to our left, lost paradise when they bucked the locals in Nevada. You'll still be players. Only now, you'll be playing for bigger pots.