I just read an article that reported promoters want to build another race track and casino in Des Moines, Iowa. Promoters are begging the state to grant them a license so they can make millions and millions, uh, I mean -- to allow the citizens of Iowa to reap the benefits of gambling. You know. All those millions of dollars that will be given to the government and charities and schools.
For some reason all I can think about is the Biblical account of the golden calf. I am not religious but the idea of people worshiping that golden calf while Moses was off getting the Ten Commandments seems fitting.
I remember when the original casino was built in Des Moines. It was not even a casino - it was a horse racing track. They called it Prairie Meadows. That was in 1989.
Within two years that facility was in bankruptcy. All the grand and glorious promises had fallen short. Way short. However, the promoters applied the philosophy of if you lose your billfold in the cattle yard, that is where you will find it. (Something my father always told my mother when he lost money on a bunch of cattle.)
So, in 1995 Prairie Meadows Race Track in Des Moines, Iowa, became the first facility in the country to allow horse betting and slot machines at the same time. The slot machines brought in a lot of money. A whole, whole lot.
So much money was made so fast with slot machines, that in 2004, gaming was permitted -- making Prairie Meadows a full fledged gambling casino.
Now, just 5 years later, so much money is rolling in that plans are in the works to build Prairie Meadows South. Oh, by the way, Iowa has about 20 other places where you can lose your money, uh, I mean, gamble.
As I see all this I am conflicted. Personally, I detest gambling and casinos. I had a really bad experience with football gambling when I was in my 20s and that cured me for life of ever wanting to gamble again.
Iowa is perhaps the most progressive state in terms of gambling -- though I know that is hard to believe. In the mid 1980s, the Iowa Lottery started with scratch tickets. It is still going strong. In fact, you may have heard of the PowerBall Lottery... it is in 30 states. Guess where that all started?!
Iowa jumped on the band wagon early on to promote riverboat gambling. Every time something new was proposed -- scratch tickets, horse racing, slot machines, gaming -- we were told our taxes would be reduced and lots of money would be given to schools and charities.
Guess what? My property taxes have gone up every year. I pay more in taxes to support schools. Sales tax has gone up in Iowa. And Iowa is about $3 billion in debt. Granted, Iowa is in better financial health than about 40 other states but that is still a lot of debt.
Personally I think it is really sad that Iowa and the country overall has become overrun with casinos and gambling. But, hey, guess what? Under Iowa the only public place in the entire state where you can legally smoke is in a casino.
You can't smoke in restaurants or public parks or on college campuses or any where -- but you CAN smoke in a casino. That sort of says it all, doesn't it?