….in rationalizing our gambling regime by making it ever more universal, we’re following the same misguided principle that we’ve followed in other cases. With pornography, for instance, where the difficulty of identifying a perfectly consistent rule that would allow the publication of “Lolita” but not Penthouse has led to a world where online porn doubles as sex education and it’s assumed that the internet will always be a sewer and we just have to live with it. Or now with marijuana, where the injustice and hypocrisy of the drug war made a good case for partial decriminalization, but stopping at decriminalization may be impossible when the consistent logic of commercialization beckons.
The reliability of this process doesn’t mean that it can never be questioned or reversed. Part of what we’re witnessing from #MeToo-era feminism, for instance, is a backlash against the ruthless logic of an unregulated sexual marketplace, and a quest for some organic form of social regulation, some new set of imperfect-but-still-useful scruples and taboos.
But it’s a lot easier to tear down an inconsistent but workable system than it is to build a new one up from scratch — and the impulse to rebuild usually becomes powerful only once you’ve reached the bottom of consistency’s long slope.
I’m not sure where we are with gambling’s cultural trajectory. But every time this playoff season served up another ad for Caesars Sportsbook, it felt like a sign that we’ve accelerated downward, with a long way yet to fall.
The damage from a growing gambling industry "is likely to fall disproportionately on the psychologically vulnerable and economically marginal, the strong preying on the weak,” writes @DouthatNYT. https://t.co/yST3quRFMM
— New York Times Opinion (@nytopinion) February 13, 2022