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Teenage gambling: Move the sacristies into casinos
by David Farside
Nov 17, 2008 | 570 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Nevada gaming industry, testing the waters of the newly elected Democrat majority, is hinting that it might ask the new Legislature to lower the legal age for gambling to 18 years of age. Claiming its revenue is down to almost record lows, it’s digging to the bottom of the barrel, targeting our youth for the sake of profit.

I know, its arguments will be 18-year-olds are in the military, they can vote and legally drink in designated areas in some states. On the surface they seem like logical arguments, but are they?

We no longer draft 18-year-olds or anyone else in this country. The U.S. Congress abolished the draft and created incentives for a voluntary conscription in 1973. Some Republicans wanted President Bush to reinstate the draft to get more military support in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bush pointed out there was no formal “declaration of war” and eliminated the need for a draft by declaring victory in Iraq from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003. No war, no need for a draft. Incidentally, by not officially declaring war he thought he could deny National Guard members veteran privileges and benefits. What a great president.

When an 18-year-old volunteers to fight for and defend his country, he is making a moral judgment based on honor for his family, duty to his country and pride in himself. He places his trust in the military to determine whether he is mature enough to handle the responsibilities of being a “good” soldier. How do casinos determine which young people have the maturity for gambling and which ones will become addicted to their games of chance?

Comparing voting privileges to gambling is ridiculous. The 26th Amendment ratified by Congress on July 1, 1971, legally lowered the voting age to 18. The argument for lowering the age was simple. If 18-year-olds were drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, made life or death decisions on the battlefield and were willing to die for our country then why shouldn’t they be allowed to vote?

The voting age varies in countries around the world. People living in Bosnia can vote beginning at the age of 16, if they’re employed. The minimum age in Austria, Brazil and Cuba is also 16. Yes, they do vote in Cuba. As a matter of fact, during their last election, 95 percent of the eligible Cuban voters voted and elected 1,201 delegates to their provincial assemblies and 614 deputies to the Cuban Parliament.

If the voting age is a criteria then maybe only those between the age of 25 and 80 should be allowed to gamble. The Italians don’t start voting until they are 25 years old. But leave it to the Catholics to be different. In the Vatican only cardinals under the age of 80 can vote for a new pope. Hmm! I thought they were all over 80.

Smaller provinces and certain aboriginal tribes allow anyone to vote if they are past the age of puberty and meet certain eligibility requirements. Maybe that will be the next targeted group by gaming. Using their logic, if they are old enough to have children they can play slot machines.

The gamers will hit a political and moral brick wall in their pursuit to open up gambling to teenagers. Teenage drinking and addiction will be the persuasive argument against it.

The U.S. Congress passed the National Minimum Drinking Age Act on July 17, 1984. The law states that no person under the age of 21-years-old can purchase or publicly possess alcoholic beverages. All states have to comply. If they don’t the state is subject to a 10-percent reduction in its annual federal highway apportionment, provided under the Federal Aid Highway Act.

The legislation did not prohibit alcoholic consumption by those under 21 years of age, only the purchase and drinking of alcohol in a public place. Some states have no restrictions for underage drinking on private property. Others allow for underage drinking in specific locations such as family restaurants in the presence of consenting supervising family members. And children of all ages are not prohibited from drinking wine at their parents’ favorite Sunday morning bar – I mean, their favorite religious altar of choice.

Just a thought: Maybe the churches should put slot machines in the aisles to the tabernacle of their holy eucharist. It would give the kids a chance to win a couple of bucks, the church could buy more gold statues and the casinos could extract a 10 percent take on the machines. Or better yet, just move the churches to a specific location in the casinos and let the kids drink and gamble under adult supervision. If that sounds ludicrous, so is lowering the age for the future gambling addicts of America.

The real tragedy of teenage gambling is the addiction rate. According to the National Institute of Mental Health charts, 4.2 million Americans are already addicted to gambling. Sixty percent of them earn $25,000 or less annually. They also report that teenage gambling is the fastest growing addiction in the United States.

Since gambling addiction is the leading cause of divorce, abuse and embezzlement, should we morally be introducing legalized gambling to our children? If you think the answer is yes, then morally you probably would approve of moving sacristies into the casinos.

David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist. The polemics of his articles can be discussed at His Web site is
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