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Fred and Barney's Great Casino Adventure

     One Friday night Fred and Barney decide to go to the local casino for
some fun and entertainment.  Fred has $50 dollars left over from his
paycheck for he has a real good job.  This week Barney has $50 too - to
his surprise his water bill was less than usual (little did he know it had
been figured wrong). 
     Fred bets a total of $50 (one of which is his lucky marked bill), wins a
total of $25 and knowing when to stop lets the casino get their expected
share of his money.  Barney however loses his $50 and begs his friend
Fred for the $25 he put back in his pocket.  Fred gives in reluctantly and
with a wild gleam in his eyes Barney has some more fun and
entertainment with Fred's hard earned money.
     When Barney gets his new water bill the next week he realizes that now
he not only owes his best friend money, but he owes the town of Riverboat
too.  He is desperate and this week determined to win enough to pay
them both back he goes to the casino alone and has twice as much fun
and entertainment. At home the unpaid bills are mounting as Barney
continues this pattern of behavior.  His children have no money for lunch
tickets at school; his daughter has to cancel her clarinet lessons because
the payments on her instrument have stopped. His son has to quit football
because he cannot buy the proper shoes - the team loses the playoffs
and the quarterback does not get that scholarship to go to Iowa - his
professional dreams go down the tube - but he gets a good  job  at the
casino serving food and beverage in a smoke filled lounge.  The baby
can't get his allergy medicine and the trips to the emergency room come
more frequently and with mounting medical bills.  When Barney's wife
tells him it has to be her or a treatment program Barney threatens to hit
her and the police have to haul him away to the neighboring county jail
where he finds a new kind of fun and entertainment.
      Barney's daughter begins looking for love in all the wrong places and
ends up with the local drug pusher - who is doing a booming business
now that the casino is in town.  Unfortunately he buys his condoms at the
local market where business (in spite of the commission's promises)
has not been so good and as rubber weakens over time, Barney
becomes a new grandpa while in a treatment program.  To feed her baby,
the teenage mother depends on the church's food pantry - but it grows
sparser and sparser as more members of the congregation choose fun
and entertainment over charitable contributions.  Barney's new grandchild
has to go on welfare and eventually will become one of a growing number
of free-lunch school kids whose behavior problems stifle the education of
all students.  Unfortunately the federal government's No Child Left Behind
Program is unfunded and the school cannot meet all the serious needs of
their growing population of at-risk students. In addition, since adolescent
addiction to gambling is growing at twice the rate of adult addiction, new
prevention and treatment programs have to be added to an already short
funded education budget.
     During this time Fred and other members of the community are trying
to help Barney's family and others like them.  Local organizations, school
groups, civic groups and churches spend hours and hours filling out the
grant forms that the casino uses to determine who will share in their
growing profits.  No wonder the banker wants to invest in the casino!  The
football team needs new uniforms, the church pantry is empty, (not to
mention the collection plate on Sunday), the senior center needs a bigger
van for those weekly trips to the casino, the school needs a new set of
economic textbooks (the ones with the chapter on the dangers of building
an economy on the institution of gambling), the sewer system is full, the
sheriff's department needs a bus plus gas money to transport prisoners
to jail, and the city needs a new calculator. 
     The citizens of Riverboat line up at the casino but the look on their
faces is not one of fun and entertainment this time.  The casino looks into
their deep pocket full of the citizen's $70 million dollars (no wonder the
school superintendent wants to invest in this business) and gives a small
pittance to each of the begging groups.  Fred looks down and sees in his
hand that same lucky marked bill that he used for betting at the casino
one night not so long ago and thinks:  "gambling - millions of dollars, cost
to society, millions more, VOTING NO for Catfish Bend Casino -

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