Could prostitution keep Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun afloat?

I was taken aback a bit to read that one strategy for Connecticut's Indian tribes to compete with the emerging casino industry in Massachusetts — including the spanking new Springfield MGM, which opens later this week — is to emphasize that gamblers can smoke here on tribal gaming floors.

It's prohibited in Massachusetts.

I'm a reformed smoker, and I've evolved from my early no-smoking years, when I was still envious of people enjoying a long drag, to bewilderment now when I see people light up, wondering how they can continue in the face of such overwhelming evidence of the harm they are doing to themselves.

Still, it is hard to imagine building a business strategy on that kind of addiction, though I guess big tobacco has been doing that for years.

The Connecticut tribes are also, no doubt, thinking about a push to match here in Connecticut the extended hours for liquor service at MGM Springfield, where you will be able to drink until 4 a.m.

It makes me think that maybe, just maybe, the tribes are going to need a really big expansion of the vices available on their reservations. Now that gambling, even legal marijuana, is becoming practically ubiquitous, it may take some new groundbreaking sin center to keep traffic counts up at their rural reservations.

Instead of asking for longer liquor hours or sports betting, maybe they will consider asking for legal prostitution.

I'm not saying that would be a good idea. But you have to admit there are many ways for them to argue for it.

It does seem like one of the last taboos that American society upholds, and the others have fallen so easily. I never thought I would see the day when evangelicals would support a president who has extramarital affairs with a bunny and a porn star and who talks about grabbing women by their genitals, but here we are.

And really, in terms of the harm to society, prostitution seems pretty low on the impact scale, at least if it were sanctioned and regulated and of course consensual.

I don't think you'd see anybody jump off a parking garage at Foxwoods because they had a bad session with a prostitute. And I doubt many people would embezzle from their employers to keep up with their prostitution habit.

The expansion of gambling routinely proposed in Connecticut would certainly have consequences for crime and addiction, impacts the state has long shied from studying in any serious way. Alcohol is far more harmful to users' health than marijuana but even now Connecticut resists the kind of legalization for recreational marijuana that is underway in Massachusetts and on the front planning burners in Rhode Island.

Extending liquor hours at Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun almost certainly would lead to more drunken driving on local rural roads, as partyers around the region drive to the later last calls on the reservations. More drunken driving arrests, accidents and almost certainly some fatalities would result.

And yet I'm sure Connecticut lawmakers will consider allowing it, as the state's share of gambling revenues declines with the exodus of players to Massachusetts.

There would not likely be traffic deaths from legalized prostitution.

Let me be clear, I am not advocating for legal prostitution at the casinos here. I'm just saying I wouldn't be surprised any longer to see it proposed, especially if it were heavily taxed.

It is, after all, legal in a small part of America, and brothels pay local taxes in two rural counties of Nevada on their $50 million industry. It is legal in a lot of Europe.

It is certainly happening at the casinos here. I wrote a few years back about a raid at a headquarters in Norwich where orders for casino prostitution visits were being taken, and police said there was a cacophony of ringing phones when they arrived.

Times certainly are changing.

After all, Stormy Daniels' lawyer already is beginning a run for president. I guess I am only surprised at this point that the porn star herself is not getting in the race.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

d.collins@theday.com

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments