Gaming is a very complicated issue in Mississippi. There is little doubt that casino investment has played a critical role in the rapid economic development the state has experienced this decade. We took a chance with legalized gaming, and so far, the bet appears to have paid off.
There are, as detractors are quick to point out, the “human costs” of gambling that must be considered when determining the long-term value of gaming to Mississippi’s economy and social fabric.
Broken relationships. Destroyed businesses. Neglected children. Increasing crime.
All of these situations have been tied to the “evil” of gambling. Critics of the industry blame casinos for facilitating destructive tendencies and praying on folks looking to hit the ever-elusive jackpot.
Seeking to blame casinos exclusively for the problems that arise when people get carried away by the bright neon, slot machines and good times on the Coast, along the river or in Philadelphia is another step down the broken road to complete victimization. Seemingly, our society is hell-bent on absolving individuals of guilt and personal responsibility.
In determining their value or perhaps lack thereof, ultimately, the impact that casinos will have here will not be determined by gaming interests, but by Mississippians making reasonable choices about what they want their lives and communities to be.