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9.7: A Student Example- “Are Casinos Good For Las Vegas? Defending Legalized Gambling,” by Kerry Oaks

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  • For this assignment, the instructor asked students to write a short essay that addressed a few of the main antithetical arguments to each student’s working thesis. Kerry Oaks’ research up to this point had focused almost exclusively on the positive aspects of gambling in Las Vegas. “Researching the other side of this argument was an important step for me,” Oaks said. “I still think that gambling—particularly in a place like Las Vegas—is good for the economy and everything else. But my research for the antithesis assignment also made me think that maybe casinos should spend more money on trying to prevent some of the problems they’re causing.”

    Are Casinos Good For Las Vegas? Defending Legalized Gambling

    Antithesis Essay Assignment

    Few places in this country are as exciting as Las Vegas, Nevada, a city known for its “party” atmosphere and legalized gambling. My working thesis, which is “Casinos and legalized gambling have had a positive economic effect on Las Vegas,” has explored how and why Las Vegas became such a popular tourist destination. Needless to say, there are a lot critics who disagree with my working thesis. While these antithetical positions are important, I believe that they can be answered.

    Some critics say that the economic and employment gains offered by legalized gambling are exaggerated. In an excerpt published on the PBS documentary show Frontline web site, John Warren Kindt says the economic benefits of legalized gambling have been exaggerated. While gambling initially leads to more jobs, it ultimately is a bad business investment.

    However, the same sort of economic problems that Kindt describes happening in other parts of the country haven’t happened in Las Vegas. In fact, Las Vegas remains one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. For example, as Barbara Worcester wrote in her article, “People Flock to Las Vegas for Relocation, Employment,” the unemployment rate in Las Vegas in December 1999 was 3.1 percent, which is the lowest unemployment rate since August 1957, when it was 2 percent. (44).

    Another argument is that casinos in the Las Vegas area cause crime, suicide, and murder. According to Jay Tolson’s article “Face of the Future?” “Clark County has almost 70 percent of the population of a state that leads the nation in its rates of suicide, high school dropouts, death by firearms, teenage pregnancies, and death from smoking.” (52).

    Clearly, this is a real problem for the area and for the state, but it cannot all be blamed on the casinos. Frank Fahrenkopf, President of the American Gambling Association, said in an interview with the PBS documentary show Frontline that there’s nothing about gambling in itself that creates crime and these problems. As Fahrenkopf was quoted on the Frontline web site, “Any enterprise that attracts large numbers of people. The crime rate at Orlando went up. It wasn't anything that Mickey and Minnie were doing that caused it, it was just that it was a draw of people to a community.”

    Even with these negative effects of crime and such, legalized gambling has still greatly improved the lives of people in Las Vegas. As Tolson writes, “there is still a sense that Las Vegas is a place where working people can realize the American Dream” (50) made possible in part by taxes on gambling instead of property or income.

    Certainly, Las Vegas has all kinds of problems, but they are the same ones as those associated with any major and rapidly growing city in the United States. But on the whole, I think the benefits of casinos in Las Vegas outweigh the disadvantages of gambling. After all, there wouldn’t be much of anything in Las Vegas if it weren’t for the casinos that thrive there.

    Works Cited.

    “Easy Money: A Report on America’s Booming Gambling Industry and Its Economic and Political Clout.” Frontline. PBS Online. June 1997. <>. 23 October 2001.

    Kindt, John Warren. “An Excerpt from The Business-Economic Impacts of Licensed Casino Gambling in West Virginia: Short-Term Gain but Long-Term Pain.” in “Easy Money: A Report on America’s Booming Gambling Industry and Its Economic and Political Clout.”

    Fahrenkopf, Frank. “Interview Exerpt.” in “Easy Money: A Report on America’s Booming Gambling Industry and Its Economic and Political Clout.”

    Tolson, Jay. “The Face of the Future?” U.S. News & World Report11 June 2001: 48-56.

    Worcester, Barbara A. “People Flock to Las Vegas for Relocation, Employment.” Hotel & Motel Management 214.4 (1999): 44.

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