Antigambling activists maintain that gambling is inherently wrong. They argue that it is against human nature and nobility. A gambler violates his or her conscience in yielding to greed. Gambling becomes the irrational effort to maximize chance against reason. It also destroys the will, since intentionally maximizing risk "is the will to have no will."
Look, who's to say he's wrong. There are certainly people out there making the argument that all gambling is unseemly and should be banned. But that's just not the argument you'll get at Ryan's Take. Furthermore, it's not the prevailing argument being waged across Massachusetts, at least in the blogosphere. Representative Dan Bosley's arguments are the ones most people keep making - and considering he was the anti-casino voice in the forum Father McGowan recently participated in, McGowan should have addressed Bosley's concerns in the Globe column, instead of dumbing the whole issue down.
To keep this dialogue honest, here are the important facts: gambling isn't going anywhere. Despite McGowan's assertions in his column, that's not the war being waged in Massachusetts. What is at stake are casinos, something that is thankfully not synonymous with gambling.
Why not take on all gambling? Perhaps, in part, because Father McGowan makes some good points: gambling, while dangerous, is a fabric of human nature that can't be wiped off this Earth. For a less ethereal reason, many people oppose casinos because they do far more harm than give people a place to legally feed their addictions. Casino resorts hurt local businesses. They don't do what so many politicians promise: provide the state with vast quantities of taxable income. Instead, they mostly redistribute taxes a state already gets, often at the expense of those who can least afford it. When many say they're against casino resorts, it's because they know local businesses can't compete. The morality of gambling is often left out of the equation.
Ultimately, citizens of Massachusetts have to decide what is going to be better for our economy. Thousands of strong and stable local business with homegrown owners - or three gigantic casinos, owned and operated mainly by forces outside of the Commonwealth? If people want to know what separates those who are for casinos in this state from those who oppose them, don't look at Father McGowan's column for any insight. Instead, ask anyone that question - do they support local businesses over gigantic casinos - because it stands at the very heart of what divides those who think casino resorts are a good idea from those who think they're wrong for Massachusetts.