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43


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 43, December 25, 1998

Injun Gambling

by Larry Baird
BairdCo@aol.com

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

          There's always been gambling in California, some legal and some not so legal. I remember in the 1950s the Catholic churches would host carnivals and that included gambling games galore. I found it pretty unbelievable that at 14 I could put my dime on a number and watch them spin the chuck-a-luck dice cage. I guess since it was not really legal to have gambling that it was no more illegal for a minor to gamble than an adult. Even more amazing, they had one of the city police officers working in uniform at the event. I later learned that the local Elks lodge housed their own gambling den with a scad of slot machines.
          Not too many years later the Catholics were barred from the gambling business and the Elks lodge were told to get rid of their slot machines. It never dawned on me that this was at about the same time that Las Vegas was developing as the gambling mecca of the West, and with all that cash flowing, much of it flowed to support the campaigns of California politicians. It didn't matter whether they were Republicans or Democrats, so long as they opposed gambling in California.
          There were rumors of large amounts of money from Vegas flowing into Democrat Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley's campaign, and isn't it interesting that there is no legal gambling in Los Angeles? No card parlors, no race tracks, nothing!
          Today, Indian gaming is the big controversial issue. No one paid much attention when the Indians had a few bingo casinos and they were miles from any major population center, but as the California population has grown and the megalopoli expanded closer to the reservations, Indian gaming exploded! Add to that, freeways that can bring a player from Los Angeles to several reservations in less than an hour, and the Indians take in too much money not to be noticed. Slot machines were the ingredient that put them over the top and put them in competition with the Vegas crowd.
          The political lines have been drawn. Vegas is now the sweetheart of the Republicans and the Indians have the Democrats in their back pockets. One of the local tribal leaders was invited to the White House, and we know that doesn't come cheap.
          I wonder how long it's going to take the Indians to figure out that either party will be their friends so long as the campaign donations keep flowing or so long as public sentiment is on their side. Other than government run lotteries, neither the Democrats or Republicans have ever embraced the concept of gambling, particularly the holier-than-thou, so-called moral wing of the Republican party.
          Perhaps as the Libertarian Party is making an effort to broaden their racial base, they will discover that Indian reservations are fertile ground. It seems like a natural marriage. Indians who want to finance their reservations and a political party that has, as a part of its philosophy, the concept of individual liberty, which extends to gambling, by anybody, anywhere, even Indians on Indian reservations.


Larry Baird's website, http://www.bairdco.com is a must-see location.


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