Notice to all middle-aged, middle-class women looking for a little excitement! North Georgia real estate developer Greg O’Leary is riding to your rescue with a proposal to expand Georgia gambling. Mr. O’Leary, according to reports, has been working on a proposal for eight years to build a casino along the interstate in Norcross.
Mr. O’Leary is not calling his development a casino, because that word has too many negative connotations. He wants to build a 24-story hotel with restaurants and a “gaming room” that would contain 7,500 slot machines, except that we wouldn’t want to call them slot machines, either. The updated description of these electronic robbers is “video lottery machines.” I’m sure there’s also a phrase out there that will allow us to avoid using the distasteful word “gamble,” too.
Actually, we’ve already pretty much arrived there. Our Georgia Lottery Board begs citizens to purchase lottery tickets by promising suckers that such purchases are the most fun a person can ever have. But Georgians are apparently tapped out on this fun, because lottery gambling isn’t packing the wallop it once was.
That brings us back to our bored, middle-class women. Developer O’Leary plans for this casino (oops, resort) to be operated by businessmen/gamblers operating a somewhat similar gambling set-up in Dover, Del. Here’s how Dover Downs CEO Ed Sutor pitches the plan (as cited by Greg Bluestein in the Gwinnett Daily Post of March 4, 2012): “We’re not going after the dregs. We’re not trying to cash someone’s welfare check. We have a safe, clean and fun facility. Think about what’s important to a 55-year-old female. Safety, cleanliness and service. And that’s what we try to focus on.”
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Well, it’s certainly a relief to know that we’ll be targeting the middle classes (in contrast with the current lottery?) with this new casino. No dregs; no welfare money. Just hilarious high-class gamblers sitting in a room with 7,500 other gamblers staring at electronic slot machines. How much more fun can a middle-class woman have? As Mr. Sutor tells it, we’re avoiding glitz and glamour altogether. “We’re not garish, neon or outrageous ... just classy and careful.”
Gussy it up any way you choose, add a sports bar and restaurant run by Herschel Walker, add a dress code if you want, maybe check tax returns at the door to screen the dregs, but no matter how you try to package it our state will expand it’s role of trying to sucker people into thinking that they’re doing something fun, all for the good of others.
I tried for months to learn how the state lottery commission spends the pittance that is set aside by law to address problem gambling. What a joke that small amount of conscience money is and how suspicious is the lottery board of anyone who asks questions. Get on line and you’ll find disconnected toll-free phone numbers to help our problem gamblers and websites full of useless information. Does our state provide real help for those ensnared by the addiction we encourage? Not a chance. And the odds are high it won’t get any better.
According to reporter Greg Bluestein, developer Dan O’Leary’s presentation to the Georgia Lottery Board last Thursday received an “icy reception.” That’s good news, but anybody who’s invested this much time and money for eight years isn’t going to quit so easily. Make your thoughts known to your elected officials and the state lottery board.
Contact the Rev. Creede Hinshaw at Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church in Savannah at firstname.lastname@example.org.