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Gaming exerts its Will

Sep 30, 2003 6:33 AM

The award-winning political analyst George Will believes that gaming is ingrained in the American culture, and that efforts to resist it usually result in its expansion.

"Gaming is a growth industry and the biggest promoter of gaming is government," said the Washington Post syndicated columnist who delivered the keynote address at G2E two weeks ago.

Will, a Pulitizer Prize winner, said gambling has been a staple of American life all through this nation’s history, noting that the legislatures that seek to oppose gambling are the biggest contributors to the industry.

"The American impulse to wager is historical," Will said. "People vote on lottery cards. There are casinos and lotteries on Indian land. Conservatism and gaming seem to have flourished together."

His comments echoed sentiments from a column he wrote four years ago regarding a report submitted by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission.

"An indiscriminate celebration of wealth disassociated from concern for the moral worth of the ways of acquiring wealth may help explain why gambling and conservatism have waxed simultaneously," Will wrote at the time.

American Gaming Association President Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., said of Will, "George Will has been an influential voice in this country for many years, and that influence has extended around the world."

Will said he appreciated the opportunity to be in Las Vegas and away from Washington’s high-octane political atmosphere.

"It is a treat to be in a city where they play with their own money," Will said. "As far as politics is concerned, the country will stay the course and the world will be, without a doubt, a better place."

Will said the gaming industry can look forward to better times as the U.S. economy has grown 2.4 percent this year, while growth in Europe was only 0.3 percent.

"Democrats are fixed on their hatred of George Bush and have thus lost sight of what is really going on in the country," he said.

Will said of the current crop of Democratic candidates and the upcoming presidential campaign, "It’s like flu shots — you have to put up with them."

Will said next year’s election will be decided in the suburbs.

"Do you realize 43 percent of the population now live in the suburbs," he said. "Mesa, Arizona is larger than St. Louis."

Will concluded his speech by reaffirming his optimism over the nation’s economy and the administration’s foreign policy, while poking fun at the California recall and the Chicago Cubs.

"California is a mess," he said. "I would vote against the recall. Gray Davis deserves this. As for the Cubs, they will get beat (in the playoffs) and start their 96th year of rebuilding. There are limits to my optimism, but I believe any team is entitled to a bad century. "