Two Chicago Tribune articles brought back memories of things Pabst*.
The video gaming industry came up with a concept appealing to women. "The cafes – with names like Stella’s Place and Dotty’s – are designed to give women a friendly place to have a drink, enjoy a sandwich and of course, gamble." (Chicago Tribune)
Professional whiners and complainers are protesting this move. In all their religious righteous indignation, they claim these cafes exploit and take advantage of women, while creating a larger gambling "addiction" problem.
Anti-gamblers never learn.
This past week, John Kass wrote an article about a vanishing breed of worker, the elevator operator.
For those too young to remember, elevators were manually operated. After elevators were automated, many buildings still kept elevator operators to press buttons. The elevator operators had a very small but powerful union.
Elevator operators also performed another valuable service. In large office buildings and apartment buildings on the Gold Coast and other moneyed areas, many elevator operators were bookies. They would take bets on horses, sports, and provide parlay cards and sheets for college basketball games.
If you played the horses, you placed your bets in the morning so the elevator operator could call them in before the tracks opened.
Back in the day the biggest obstacle to any form of legalized gambling was organized crime. They did not want competition. The Outfit usually got what it wanted. They had the political power, cash, and blackmail information to keep gambling illegal and under their control. Off track betting did not come into existence in Chicago until the mob lost its grip, thanks to the Department of Justice.
Chicagoland was, and still is, gambling land. Chicago gambles. You could place a bet anywhere in this city at one time, and probably still can. Every institution and large business had one or more bookies. Even city hall and the newspapers had bookies. The news media publishes and discusses odds and makes predictions on scores of games, which helps some bettors make their choices.
Cigar stores, barber shops, news stands, and shoe shine stands provided gambling services. The police and fire departments had their people too. In the late 1970s a near west side firehouse ran one of the largest books in the city.
Taverns would operate all night card games after hours, invitation only. There were high stakes "floating" card and dice games run by Outfit impresarios. These operated in a different location every week, sometimes in suites of a major hotels or large Gold Coast apartments. Some of the most prominent people in Chicago patronized these games, dressed to the nines.
Social and athletic clubs ran gambling operations and all night and multi-day card or dice games.
During football season, every office, bar, restaurant, club, and who knows what has its pool, with people buying squares. One famous nightclub was known for its ten thousand dollar per square Super Bowl pool. It was rumored the Board of Trade had one hundred thousand dollar per square Super Bowl pools.
People are going to gamble. It is a fact of life. Get over it. If the new cafes, casinos, off track betting parlors, and others do not provide the opportunity, some person or group will step in to fill the void.
If you know where to go or the right people, you can still place bets, play cards, craps, or any other game of chance in Chicago. While the Internet may be a gamblers paradise, there is a certain social element to gambling. Gamblers want to be around like minded people.
The various forms of state lotteries are gambling. Why should the government own all the fun?
Native Americans run thriving casinos in many states, some in backwater communities. They are usually packed with people, especially women, gleefully playing various video games. Why is this perfectly acceptable?
Are there people who have gambling problems, or "additctions"? Sure, so what? There will always be a small percentage of people who deviate from the norm. People who live higher risk lives than the rest of us. Degenerate gamblers, who will bet their last dollar on two rain drops flowing down a window.
Those with a puritanical streak want to control what cannot be controlled, human free will and choice. Gambling, in and of itself is a harmless vice. There will be a small percentage of people who ruin their lives. There are consequences for excessive choice and high risk behavior in all endeavors. That is part of the human condition. We cannot force people to be responsible.
It is time to finally realize people gamble. They are going to freely choose to lay their money down and play the odds. Legalizing gambling should be a no-brainer. Governments should benefit from the hundreds of billions of dollars generated through illegal gambling operations.
Chicago should not have "a" casino. It should have many, privately owned small and large gambling dens and emporiums. They should be strictly regulated, just like London, Paris, Hong Kong, and other forward thinking cities.
People are going to gamble, whether the puritans like it or not. They will travel to other communities to do it. They will win or lose. They, and they alone, will suffer or benefit from the consequences of their free choices.
Chicago gambles. Puritans cannot stop the unstoppable.
*Memories of things Pabst is a figure of speech, not a misspelling.
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