Our View 5:45 p.m. EST November 27, 2014
Welcome to Delaware, where there is a slot machine on every corner. Or so the state government hoped for a while.
Of course, we could always follow the lead of Washington, Colorado and Alaska and legalize recreational marijuana. That would pull in customers until the neighboring states catch up.
But that would be immoral, you say. Of course, it would be. Yet except for a matter of degree, what is the difference between a fantasy cynical ploy like that and a genuine suggestion to spread slots parlors? The goal is more revenue. The harm to the social structure is collateral damage.
These activities were once considered sinful, or at least inappropriate for a state government to push on its citizens. The attitude follows the philosophy of Napoleon III of France, who allegedly said about his country's tax on tobacco: "This vice brings in one hundred million francs in taxes every year. I will certainly forbid it at once – as soon as you can name a virtue that brings in as much revenue."
These are signs of the state's addiction to gambling revenues. The administration and the General Assembly must face the facts. The regional monopoly for casino revenues is gone. Competition from Pennsylvania and Maryland, much larger states, is killing Delaware's gaming business. With that goes the easy revenues of star-crossed gamblers pumping money into slot machines.
It has been a good ride. It enabled the state government to spend a lot of money without controlling costs and raising taxes. A shakeout is enveloping the regional gaming industry. Casinos are closing in Atlantic City. The shakeout will hit Pennsylvania and Maryland. And it will hit Delaware.
Desperate measures like neighborhood slot parlors show how much magical thinking is going on in the capitol complex. It is time to face the facts.