Thursday, August 23, 2012

“Geauga Gambling”

c. 2012 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Historically, Ohio has been slow to embrace legalized gambling. While many of our citizens enjoyed wagering outside of the state’s borders, somehow, we resisted the push to legitimize such activity here at home.

Now, that trend has reversed.

Local residents can enjoy a full measure of this leisure habit in Cleveland. Or, sample a bit of the experience via Internet Cafes like the one on Water Street, in Chardon.

But in yonder days, the idea of gambling here at home was shocking to many.
The newspaper editorial that follows here provides an example of such ‘old school’ thinking:

Geauga Faces Grave Challenge
The Painesville Telegraph, March 27, 1950

“Nero fiddled while Rome burned, according to legend. A modern analogy can be seen in Geauga County where the people of that fine community are twiddling their thumbs while another destructive agent (named) gambling – threatens the morals and well-being of many persons – adults and youths. If the people of Geauga continue to show apathy toward this menace, they will eventually be confronted with a deplorable situation which, if not of their own making, will largely have grown through their failure to act effectively when the handwriting appeared on the wall. To put it more bluntly, if not enough right-thinking citizens, including church leaders, are interested in eliminating rotten gambling conditions such as exist at the notorious Pettibone Club, many will live to see the day when they will deeply regret their failure to oust the gambling forces. It seems strange that in Geauga County there apparently are no judges, justices of the peace, or law enforcement officials who see some grain of reasonableness in Governor (Frank J.) Lausche’s desire to clean up the gambling situation by whatever means are at hand. One would naturally think that Geaugans would be aroused to fighting pitch by the Pettibone’s defiance of the governor or other state officials who have issued closing orders to the casino. But there has not even been a ripple of protest to the club’s flagrant disregard of the law. Let’s go back to another era and briefly review the case of Al Capone. Not even the most aggressive and conscientious law enforcement officials ever were able to pin him on any of the myriad murders, hold-ups and extortions for which, everyone knew, he and his gang were responsible. Instead, the forces of the law broke up the gang by going through the back door and taking Capone out of circulation by convicting him of income tax evasions. It seems that Governor Lausche would be justified in using the same or similar tactics against gambling interests in Geauga. If the latter are violating minor laws, one procedure at this time could be to pin on them whatever maximum penalties are allowed by law for those infractions insofar as getting local authorities to act on gambling is concerned. Unless Geauga County takes drastic steps, many parents – and this, too, applies to church leaders – may wake up some day to find their youth corrupted beyond all recovery. There is an old German folk story about the Pied Piper of Hamelin which fits into this picture. Is Geauga letting the Pied Piper, in the guise of the gambling promoter, lead its innocents astray? The young folks may not hear the Piper’s luring notes right now, but inevitably large numbers of them will respond to the call. Then the county really will have something about which to lament. Governor Lausche shouldn’t have to fight Geauga’s battle alone. He should receive the strongest kind of support from the residents of the county, who, after all, would be the ones to benefit from a sweeping victory. The people of Geauga County face a grave challenge in the call to rid their community of gambling. They should no longer hesitate to band together and show, as others have done throughout the ages, that the forces of right and decency are greater than the forces of evil.”

In modern times, the appeal of new jobs and tax revenue has proven to be irresistible for many states that face budgetary issues. Additionally, the social climate has changed drastically from bygone years.

Many who consider themselves to be socially conscious or morally correct have decided that engaging in gambling activity of some sort is acceptable. And indeed, profitable.

Still, debate over the topic remains vigorous and persistent.

Whether gambling is embraced in public, or relegated to the dim light of shadowy corners, it remains an enduring part of life in the county.

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