“We’re Raping Our Own People”

by Doug Miller


Doug Miller served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1994-2006. He was chairman of the Tourism and Recreation Committee and a leader in the fight against a state lottery and expanded casino gambling.


People voted for the lottery and enhanced casino gambling because of a massive advertising campaign, especially on TV. Gambling advocates said, “We need to do this for the kids, it’s going to raise massive money for education, and it’s going to save the horse industry.” They were much better funded than their opponents.


They said to the horse industry, which encompassed anybody that had anything to do with horses, including trainers, feed stores, vets, and trailer manufacturers: “If we don’t pass this, every one of you and every one of your industries will go out of business.” Our anti-gambling response was that not passing these pro-gambling questions would not ruin the horse industry, and it would multiply gambling victims.


The big winner in all of this is the tribes. They’re the ones who have made a killing on the Indian casinos. Over the years, a Winstar or a Riverwind would not have been able to survive without massively increasing their revenue.


What has happened since 2004 is exactly what my legislative colleague Forrest Claunch of Midwest City said would happen. The lottery would underperform to a great degree, which it has. Schools would be helped very minimally, which they have. The popularity of the lottery, just like in Texas, would diminish, which has happened.


And the other things that were warned about have also come to pass. The high rate of gambling addictions. An increase in embezzlement from employers and family members. Increased alcoholism, increased bankruptcies, increased divorce, all of that being the social ills of gambling. You can go anywhere to find this—Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Tulsa or Thackerville—it’s just part of what you get with gambling.


Finally, Oklahoma will never be a gambling destination like Las Vegas because of where we’re located. Other than a few exceptions like Winstar and Choctaw Casino & Resort, which draw a large number of Texas gamblers, in general, we are raping our own people. It’s Oklahomans.


Go by any of these casinos in the wee hours of the morning. The parking lots are full. It’s our own people who are in there, who are on fixed incomes, or they’re spending their rent money. They can’t afford it. How many times have any of us been in a convenience store and seen a tattered lady or fellow and they’ve got five dollars in their billfold and what do they do it with it? They buy lottery tickets with it.


Gambling, casinos, and all that go with them are inherently anti-God and erode responsibility, hard work, and the belief in what we all know: there is no beneficial get rich quick path. Gambling promises something for nothing. The consequences eventually happen.

 

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Oklahomans Vol 2 :

Statehood - 2020s

which can be purchased HERE.


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