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Casino Debate Forms Strange Alliances

Casino free Columbus has a nice ring to it doesn't it? Ok, maybe not everyone feels that way. In fact, the holidays are the perfect time to get together with family and discuss all of those things you can't agree on - especially politics.

For clarity let me explain that my relatives are pretty conservative while I am decidedly not. So it was a happy moment when I realized that all of us were in agreement that we don't want a casino in Columbus.

The surprise of agreement must have thrown everyone off balance. To regain our footing a new line was drawn - the traditional holiday argument instead became about whether or not we should do something to stop the casino.

Now I am actively working to try and keep Columbus casino free so I am very much for stopping this (or any) casino from being built in Columbus. The primary reason I am against it is that I have yet to see a single example of where a casino has done anything positive for a community here in the Midwest. Casinos simply bring with them too many negatives. Since the constitutional amendment does not require the building of a casino (it merely permits it); I believe there is an opportunity to prevent it.

My family however argues that we shouldn't try and stop the casino from being built because it's unfair to stand in the way of a business doing the same thing that the government already does. As my brother-in-law put it, "Ohio has the lottery so what's the difference?" He then labeled me a hypocrite for not speaking out against the Ohio lottery all of these years. My response was essentially that I don't agree with the Ohio lottery either.

But the lottery has a significantly smaller negative impact because it doesn't centralize the gambling and because the generated funds are re-invested into the State.

I've always argued that I don't have a moral issue with gambling which has generally let me be more ambivalent about what I am for and against. However, faced with my brother-in-law's comment I began thinking about where I really stand on the moral issue. Looking deeper inside myself I found that I am put off by the extreme exploitation of organized gambling. Gambling - particularly casino gambling - is the far edge of capitalism, deriving value purely through exploitation of individual participant's reserves.

With that I find myself directly in the middle of our age old holiday argument. Here I thought we had moved onto something different. No, no, here I stood, nick-named "Fidel" by my relatives years ago, clutching to my ideal that exploitation is wrong. And there, on the other side of the Christmas tree, stand my relatives firmly espousing the purity of the market and the holiness of exploiting the weak.

Andrew Miller hosts the blog Elephants on Bicycles -.