Let’s string up those
big time gamblers!

May 13, 2003 7:19 AM

HYPOCRISY IS THE BIGGEST SIN! When the story about William Bennett’s gambling habits broke, I thought it would be a good barometer to gauge how far the country had come in its acceptance of gambling.

After all, every year we hear about a new survey or public opinion poll of how a majority of the population has come to accept gambling as a form of entertainment.

Every year we hear about the expansion of commercial gambling, whether it’s tribal casinos, racetrack slots, video lottery terminals, or whatever. No matter where you turn, gambling is growing, as is its acceptance.

That’s why I was surprised to see so many so-called pundits leap with both feet onto the Holier Than Thou bandwagon, which they proceeded to drive up and down Bill Bennett’s back.

Even in Las Vegas, the supposed epicenter of commercial gambling, there was little tolerance for a man who admits he spent millions in the casinos, reported his winnings to the IRS, donated some to charity and basically didn’t bother anyone in the process.

For instance, R-J columnist John Smith seemed to enjoy himself as he lambasted Bennett as "Mr. Moral Compass" and the "self-appointed oracle of family values."

Thank goodness for fallen morality czars, who must be catnip for claw-wielding writers like Smith.

To support his case that Bennett is a "rube" who "lost a fortune playing video crack machines and those mind-numbing slots," Smith quotes Anthony Curtis as "one of the most respected gambling sources in the country" — now, there’s a stretch ”” who called Bennett the "ultimate gambling sucker."

Hypocrisy, anyone? One of Smith’s fellow columnists at the R-J, Bob Dancer, writes regularly about 100 percent payback video poker machines, and how he won millions playing "those video crack machines."

More important, so what if Bennett lost millions? Is there a crime against acting stupidly? Do we discount Bennett’s admonitions that we’ve become morally flabby, personally irresponsible and that we really ought to try and live better lives just because he lost money? Do we throw out the baby with the bath water?

Another local writer, George Knapp, penned a piece in the Mercury, which morphed Bill Bennett into a philandering, strip club-hopping degenerate who quotes heroes like Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s right-hand Nazi.

Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe I should also be condemning someone for human frailty. It’s easy to do. It’s the easiest thing to do.

While we’re at it, let’s look at Bill Bennett’s eating habits. He’s carrying around a few extra pounds. He’s guilty of gluttony!

Let’s not forget there are seven deadly sins. We should be able to pin a couple more on him: Avarice, of course, maybe even sloth in the afternoon sun. How about envy, wrath and lust? Surely, he lusts when he’s in Vegas!

But even though sermonizing is fun, it stinks. Perhaps the self-proclaimed moralists need to condemn others to justify their own behavior. Who knows?

Most of the Bible’s Psalms were written by King David, a very flawed man who sent Bathsheba’s husband to his death, even while she carried David’s child. Yet, the Psalms contain some of the most profound and virtuous passages of the Bible. Maybe some of the bandwagon columnists should try reading them.


By Chuck Di Rocco

MIND BLOWING! Leo Rishty was on the phone. He seldom calls. But, if he has something to say, he’s on the pipeline.

He had something to say.

"I just returned from the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi, Miss. It knocked my socks off. The new games being shown were fantastic. As expected, about 95% of them were video-type games vs. reel slots."

HOW DO CAN YOU MAKE THE BEST BETTER? Put your son in charge. And, when it works, really works, take time out, pack your bags and retreat to Italy as a family outing. That’s the script the Ferraro Family will follow when they head for the homeland next month.

But, son Mimo will be doing more than vacationing. He will be working under the tutelage of some Italy’s premier chefs at the finest restaurants the country has to offer.

Personally, I can’t wait until he returns. I’ll be beating a path to Mimo Ferraro’s Ristorante on West Flamingo to twirl a little pasta and get the full story on his trip.

GOOD NIGHT, TRIP. Leave the light on for us.