Thanks to the First Electric Newspaper for alerting me to McHenry County Board member Paula Yensen’s opposition to video gambling. I’d call it shot machines, of course, because that’s what it really is.
I found my first slot machines right inside the back door of the Miles River Yacht Club in St. Michaels, Maryland. We didn’t have much of a boat, but there were these nickle slot machines and sometimes I had some money to put in a slot. Sometimes I won 35 cents. It was quite a thrill.
There was this sign I didn’t understand. “No Minors Allowed.”
I knew there were no mines on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, so I didn’t understand why the sign was up there.
That was my introduction to gambling.
I asked Paula Yensen if she would be willing to share her comments before the Lake in the Hills Village Board about the subject. What she said follows:
“Good Evening. My name is Paula Yensen. I live at 971 Brittany Bend. I am here this evening to oppose the amending of the ordinance to allow video poker in Lake in the Hills. I can say from personal experience that this is a very bad idea. My ex-husband impoverished our family because of his addiction to gambling.
“I can assure you that many people who can least afford it will lose their life savings to video poker.
“Currently, 7,000 gambling addicts have voluntarily placed their names on the self-exclusion list which prohibits them from entering any of the state’s nine closely watched and controlled casinos in Illinois.
“A concern is that gamblers who have banned themselves from casinos will find machines in bars and restaurants, which would be a tempting substitute for casino gambling.
“Professionals who specialize in gambling addiction agree that video poker provides an exceptionally fast track to addiction.
“For example, among the 5% of all gamblers who develop a problem, it takes those who bet on horses 20 years to hit bottom.
“By contrast video gamblers get to that stage in two years.
“The attributes that make it addictive are speed, built-in ability to keep on playing (credit card readers on the machines), false perception of skill, and the hypnotizing effect of the video screen.
“State Gaming Commissioner Aaron Jaffe said the legalization of video poker and other electronic games is a ‘completely different ball game,’ than regulating the state’s nine casinos.
“Currently there is not an infrastructure to provide oversight of this new venture. It is estimated that it will require 75 additional staff members and $10 million just to implement the program. The state gaming board still must draft rules to implement the legislation. The legislature gave them 60 days to write the regulations.
“The state has not set aside money to study the impact of a gambling expansion and it doesn’t have a publicly funded treatment program.
“The Illinois Family Institute indicated that video poker is the most addictive form of gambling.
“Some experts call it the crack cocaine of gambling.
“Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said that poker machines are some of the most insidious gambling devices out there.
“In South Carolina a poll conducted by Mason-Dixon indicated that 47% of the respondents said video gaming should be eliminated, and an additional 24% said they favored regulating it more tightly.
“Even Las Vegas’ Mayor has asked a panel to consider removing video poker machines from neighborhood businesses.
“Thank you for your time this evening.”
The First Electric Newspaper reported additional details from Yensen’s person life:
“My ex-husband impoverished our family because of his addiction to gambling,” Yensen said. “Professionals agree video poker is a fast track to addiction,” Yensen told trustees. “I can only tell you the problem has had a profound impact on our family.”
I was listening to an NPR piece between 2 and 3 Wednesday afternoon about a mother whose daughter’s insurance would lapse if she dropped out of college. The daughter continued in school, despite undergoing chemotherapy. It was tough on all concerned.
The mother started contacting legislators about the insanity (my words) of such an insurance policy rule. Again and again and again. You might call it the Chinese water torture approach to public policy change. She got a lot of publicity along the way. After her daughter died, the committee voted unanimously for the legislation and it became law in New Hampshire.
The problem with such insurance mandates is that most people don’t have true insurance policies. They have a health plan administered by a third party administrator and governed by the Federal government under ERISA. And the more state mandates that are imposed, the more companies decide to escape them and provide health coverage under the much less strict Federal rules.
Well, the woman decided to change the Federal law, too.
But it wasn’t.
She got it passed both houses and then remembered that she had no clue how the President stood.
While teaching, she got a call from her U.S. Senator John Sununu tellig her the President had signed the bill.
I know this is off the subject, but Paula Yensen reminds me of that woman.
When I talked to her after Wednesday’s meeting about her comments to the Lake in the Hills Village Board (which were completely ignored, by the way, even though she was on the same board before being elected to the McHenry County Board), I could relate to the unpleasantness she was enduring re-living and sharing the problems in her former marriage.
I wonder if Yensen’s presence on the McHenry County Board will have an effect similar to that of the New Hampshire mother who wanted to make sure that other families didn’t have to undergo the problems that hers had.
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The photo was taken at the McHenry County Democratic Central Committee meeting Thursday.