Slots for Kids!

The title is completely fanciful. But I read this morning's report about Jack Wagner's argument about gambling and an arena proposal with equally complete revulsion. He makes the case that "the state Gaming Control Board should award the lone Pittsburgh slot machine casino license to a gaming company that promises to fund a new arena for the city." Why? Because "a successful slots applicant must help the city in its time of economic need." (Quotes are from the story and not necessarily from Jack Wagner's comments.)

Jack Wagner is an experienced Pittsburgh politician. I don't know enough about him to know what he has up his sleeve. But if the paper reported his comments accurately, then he has the bargaining dynamic backward. Maybe he thinks that this is a way to ensure that the slots licensee kicks in millions for the benefit of the city. What it really does is give the slots licensee an unhealthy degree of leverage over the city's future. If Pittsburgh is party to a deal that brings an arena in exchange for slots, you can be sure that Isle of Capri, or whoever builds that building, will be looking to the City for favors for a long, long time.


2 Responses to "Slots for Kids!"

Jonathan Potts said... 12/28/2005 11:28 AM

Even if you buy into the notion that the slots operator, by virtue of being given a government-sanctioned monopoly over legal Pittsburgh gambling, will owe something back to the community, it is ludicrious to suggest that a new arena would fulfill that obligation. How about asking the casino operator to pony up money to help repair our aging sewer/water system? Street repair?

This is a nice little shakedown operation our state and local leaders have set up. You have it nailed: first the government shakes down the operator for a project they don't have the political will to get done on their own, then the operator shakes down the politicos for untol favors down the road.

Amos_thePokerCat said... 1/05/2006 10:11 PM

... with equally complete revulsion.

So, what was equal to your complete revulsion?

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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