Marolt: Skiing, gambling, pot and prostitutes
We have to figure out a way to keep up with the competition. What about gambling? Las Vegas is the Aspen of craps. They play the slots like we ski the chutes. The thing is, we are blessed to live in a place that can have both. We’re more like Lake Tahoe. Offering both doesn’t look like it’s been a bad thing for them.
Of course, the argument against legalizing gambling here is that “it’s bad.” But let’s face it: The truth is that it can be bad in certain circumstances for some. Most of the time it is a harmless recreational activity that helps folks unwind and relax.
Sure, gambling can be addictive, and a few people get hurt by it, but it’s the same with skiing. The problem is the compulsive personality, not the activity. With a gambling addiction, there is the possibility of getting so carried away that you can lose your job. A few ski bums never had one to begin with. They say it’s a choice in the case of ski-bumming. It doesn’t sound like it when you listen to those who were “called” to the mountain way of life, though. Something very powerful has taken hold of their souls if you are to believe what you hear in gondola conversations with a local.
You also could lose your house in a poker game gone bad, and that would be a terrible thing. But in skiing you can blow out your knee and, with the cost to fix that by a top-flight surgeon who specializes in putting athletes back together to ensure they can go out and tear it up all over again, the result might be the same if you bet wrong with your health- insurance coverage.
There is also the worry about organized crime with gambling, but every ski town is already a company town run by a monopoly that pretty much controls everything from ticket prices to the going rates for wages, rent and meals so that a local resort lifestyle is basically under its thumb anyway. If not technically so, it is at least practically criminal activity. If you don’t like it, you are always free to move to another ski resort — where conditions are going to be the same. You know — meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
Really, though, what it comes down to, as with all things formerly considered bad for us, is that gambling passes the new litmus test — it is no worse than alcohol. Go ahead and have a few sips. It will all make sense.
You know the arguments: Drinking alcohol is not a crime. People do it every day. Most don’t get into trouble with it — OK, they don’t get into serious trouble with it — very often — at least not lately. And drinking alcohol kills far more people than gambling does every year. So, why not gambling?
Everybody gambles: grown-ups, kids, cops, clergy and judges included. And it’s still against the law. All I’m saying is that we need to change that.
The other thing we can breathe easy about is that it is completely safe to gamble and drive as long as you make sure to check in with your bookie using a hands-free cellphone setup. We already have established laws addressing this. We’re good to go.
What’s the worst thing that could happen? That’s right: bright, colored, blinking, neon lights. That seems to be what everybody is really concerned with when it comes right down to the truth about being anti-gambling. The entire town could end up looking like the Aspen pedestrian mall at Christmas 12 months a year. OK, so ban strip-style lighting and signage. You can have people gambling in regular old buildings that, from the outside, look exactly the way they always have. What do we really care what folks are doing inside as long as we can tax it?
Since it is going on illegally already and there is no way to stop it, we might as well bring it above board so we can tax it and use the windfall to make our schools better. You know, this really is all about the kids. We did it with pot. We can easily do it with gambling. If we then get the nerve to legalize prostitution, our children will have every advantage in the world.
Roger Marolt is a father and knows that fathers know best. Contact him at email@example.com.
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The alleged ringleader of a scheme to embezzle at least $27,000 from a Snowmass Village condominium complex remains at large and is likely living outside the country.