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