North Carolina Already Hooked on Gambling - Thursday 12th of May 2005

Consider this: Americans made more than $892 billion in legal wagers in 2002. That figure is a sevenfold increase since 1982, according to Christiansen Capital Advisors, LLC, a marketing analysis firm that produces an authoritative annual survey on legalized gambling revenue.

"In a left-handed way, the notion of North Carolina finally legalizing a lottery is a testament to the staying power of what gambling expert Nelson I. Rose calls the Third Wave of legalized gaming in this country. Gambling has had a historic rise and fall since colonial times, with two earlier eras of legalization ended by scandal, revulsion and prohibition.

"The latest era of legalization started when 21 states allowed parimutuel betting at race tracks at the height of the Great Depression. But since New Hampshire established a lottery in 1964, the Third Wave has been on a roll.

"Now, every state except Utah and Hawaii has some form of legalized gambling -- from lotteries and horsetracks to tribal casinos.

"…There's also online gambling, which attracted $5.7 billion in wagers in 2003 and is expected to take in $18.4 billion in 2009 according to a projection by Christiansen Capital.

"…The Southern tradition of sin privately co-existing with salvation has been diluted by transplants to North Carolina. A census study of migration among states from 1995 to 2000 showed that for every 1,000 North Carolinians, more than 48 came here within that five-year span.

"…The signs that gambling is alive and well in North Carolina are scattered and anecdotal. But they can't be missed.

"They include the more than $100,000 in campaign contributions during the 2002 election cycle made by donors with ties to the video-poker industry and the more than $100 million a year in reported revenue from more than 10,000 machines throughout the state. Those numbers are from a report on video poker and political corruption made by Democracy North Carolina, a watchdog organization based in Carrboro that monitors money and ethics in politics…"

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