Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

The New National Pastime

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

The New National Pastime

Article excerpt

Take me out to the ballgame? Forget it, writes Gerri Hirshey of the New York Times Magazine (July 17, 1994).

Gambling is now bigger than baseball, more powerful than a platoon of Schwarzeneggers, Spielbergs, Madonnas, and Oprahs. More Americans went to casinos than to major league ballparks in 1993. Ninety-two million visits! Legal gambling revenues reached $30 billion, which is more than the combined take for movies, books, recorded music and park and arcade attractions. Thirty-seven states have lotteries; 23 have sanctioned casinos. More than 60 Indian tribes have gaming compacts with 19 states. As this century turns, it's expected that virtually all Americans will live within a four-hour drive of a casino. . . .

And so we stand in lottery lines and climb aboard buses on the strength of possibilities. They're limitless, but with absurdist odds. America has come to count heavily on our cheerful folly. Our modest stakes have become the last best hope for budget-strapped state legislatures, for long-impoverished Indian tribes now permitted to run gaming ventures, for stockbrokers and investment bankers looking to salve the wounds inflicted by '80s excesses. …

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