There are questions surrounding how the products of the gaming industry should be marketed. Which products should be legal? Where should gaming product distribution places be located?
The Nevada Gaming Commission is focusing upon locations of restricted license locations. These are places permitted to have fifteen or fewer gaming machines. The Commission should seek to analyze policy for restricted licenses guided by an overriding concern for the public interest of the citizens of Nevada.
Some gambling operations should be encouraged by state policy; others should be strongly discouraged; still others should be outright banned.
Both opponents and proponents should agree that some gaming can be in the interest of some communities and society – even if individuals find the activity to be offensive in all its forms. Both opponents and proponents should agree that some forms of gambling are offensive to the community and to society. The opponents should not waste energy condemning all gaming, but rather should seek out the most offensive forms and concentrate attacks on those forms. The proponents should not take the position that all gambling no matter the form is good for society. Instead, the proponents should seek out forms that offer benefits to society and make their defense around those forms.
I endorse the religious theology that accepts some gambling. If the game is honest, if the players are not habitual, if the players can meet their other social obligations, and if the bottom line helps the community in pursuit of good things, the activity may be permissible. An occasional game is played at low stakes, honestly, and the beneficiary is the local parish, school, hospital, etc. Permissible. The same can be said of other charity gambling, some Native American gaming, and maybe also of the Las Vegas Strip. Gamblers are recreational tourists, games are honest, and the end result is a growing economy that provides lots of entry-level jobs for persons who otherwise would not be employed.
There are better targets than the casinos of the Las Vegas Strip. My target – the slot machines of the grocery stores of the Las Vegas Valley. The machines of the grocery stores, while honest, attract habitual players whose activity reduces their ability to meet obligations to family and community, and in doing so the machines hurt the community. There is no redeeming value achieved to offset the harm.
The appropriate policy is obvious: take the machines out of the grocery stores. Consider these questions:
Who plays these machines? Is the money being played being brought into Las Vegas? Are the players tourists? How many are tourists? I think the percentage would be somewhere near zero. Are the players young or old, male or female? I think we would find most are upper-age females. What is their economic situation? Are they lower-income persons? How many purchase their food with food stamps, before (at least I hope) they play?
How many of the patrons of supermarket video slot machines are compulsive gamblers? How many of the players at 3 a.m. are compulsives? How many of the players who stay at the machines for ten hours in a row are compulsives? I think many.
Who is exposed to gambling in the supermarkets of Las Vegas? Everyone.  Everyone is not exposed to the Strip gambling. We do not have to go to casinos. But we have to eat; we do not have a choice about going to the market. Children are exposed to this gambling. Teenagers, too, whereas Strip casinos throw out the teenagers. Recovering addicted gamblers have to have this gambling thrown into their faces when they shop for food. People who want absolutely nothing to do with gambling must be exposed. People are not forced to witness drinking and intoxicated people; they are forced to witness gambling and gambling-crazed people – in grocery stores.
Do I receive a better price for food, because of the gambling in grocery stores? When I go to a casino, I can enjoy a low-cost meal, because the casino forfeits profits on the meal in order to get me into the facility, because I might just drop a roll of quarters into a machine. Is my grocery bill less because of the slot machines in the grocery store? After all, my supermarket is sucking out anywhere from $300,000 to $900,000 a year from my neighbors with the machines. The reality is that our grocery store prices are not lower than those in surrounding states.
How much money do the machines make? Are the fifteen machines (the limit for grocery stores) making an average $30,000 a year (the average for the Strip), or maybe $40,000, or as is the case of one bar, $60,000 per machine? Are the machines taxed (they pay a flat fee) an amount more or less than paid by casinos for their slot machines? There is a $2,000 annual flat tax for grocery store machines, and a $1,000 annual flat tax plus 6.25% winnings tax for casino machines.
Where does the money go from the profits on the grocery store machines? To employees? Some. To local slot route companies? Some. Most goes to outside corporations that own the grocery stores. Each owner is an out-of-state company.
Would the Commission support putting slot machines in bank lobbies? That would be ridiculous. Guess what, each Las Vegas supermarket chain has an over-the-counter branch bank in its lobby along with the gambling machines. Not only do we have the issue about ATMs nearby (also in every lobby), but banks. My ATM will only give me $500 a day – the bank that owns the ATM wants to make sure I spend my money responsibly. But here I am with my bank account; the cash is only a few steps away – junior’s college fund.
Machine play in restricted locations is supposed to be “incidental” to other business. Can the markets say that from 12 midnight to 6 a.m. the machines are incidental? Would it be more accurate to say that the sole purpose of keeping the grocery stores open at those hours is to serve the cravings of habitual gamblers?

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