Is There No Problem Gambling Can’t Solve?; or, OK, Maybe Now I’ll Buy That Malkin Jersey

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007, 10:57 am

So the Penguins are going to stay, and Pittsburgh is going to have a brand-new arena to replace the beloved but pretty disgusting Mellon Arena. It was touch and go for awhile, but the deal is apparently done. We’ll get to watch Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Fleury et al build a new dynasty. The city is already in a tizzy over the Pens–with the new arena in the works and the playoffs looming I pity the poor Pirates. Opening Day will be overshadowed by both the NHL playoffs AND the NFL Draft.

We could argue over why a financially-strapped city like Pittsburgh, fresh from bankruptcy, would spend oodles of money building an arena for a team that plays in a sport without a national TV contract. We could also argue why cities pony up hundreds of millions to build stadia and arenas…if these sports are so popular and successful, why don’t the TEAMS build them and keep all the revenues? But that’s a subject for another day.

Instead I’ll bring your attention to some comments made by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell:

“Make no mistake about it — without expanded gaming in Pennsylvania, the Penguins would be gone. The first puck would have been dropped next year in Kansas City.”

And:

“If you don’t like gaming, understand that we would have lost a very important institution for Pittsburgh. The Penguins would have been gone,” Mr. Rendell said.

It’s rather a conflicting message our governments are sending about gambling, yes? To some in government, online gaming is an evil comparable to child pornorgraphy. Gambling is a vice that is ripping apart the social fabric and is turning our young people into a mob of degenerate grifters. To others, gaming is our great Economic Saviour, which magically multiplies loaves and fishes and erases in a flash years of financial mismanagement and short-sighted politics.

Personally, I think the true nature of gambling falls, oh, somewhere in between those two extremes. But then, I’m not a politician. I don’t have to take extreme positions.

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