In the comments to my previous post on the overnight gambling bus crash, Jonathan wrote, "I am kind of disappointed in this post; I thought you were going to argue for more conveniently located casinos in order to spare the hopelessly addicted the long dangerous bus ride." Well, Jonathan, you can always GYOFB, but we aim to please here, so...
The second thought I had about the gambling bus crash is that it indicates multiple major failures of transportation and land use policy. There is clearly a high demand for late night gambling, and the system is set up to satisfy it in a grossly inefficient way, with eight-hour bus trips to casinos in the woods of rural Connecticut.
A lot of this comes from the longstanding practice of "solving" problems of vice (which also include undesirable sexual and drug-related activities) by pushing them outside the city, instead of figuring out how to regulate them effectively. With subsidized roads it became possible to push casinos outside the metro area completely, as with Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
There are many crazy things about this whole story, but one of the craziest is the fiction that it is somehow "Indian gaming." The Pequot nation has a glorious history, but at one point the population was too small to fill one of these buses. The numbers have increased since then, but only by counting anyone who can show the remotest connection with the group. They don't live on the reservation, or near each other at all.
The people who developed the casino, the people who run it, and the people who gamble there come from the whole spectrum of American ethnicities. As I understand it, people with Chinese and Jewish backgrounds are especially well-represented among all three groups, largely because other ethnic groups have a history of considering gambling to be sinful.
The fact that the law required these casinos to be located on a reservation in Eastern Connecticut (but convenient to Interstate 95) means that people who want to gamble in the middle of the night will have to spend a lot of time on the road.
I know it would be almost impossible politically, but imagine if we could set up a place in lower Manhattan where people could gamble. It would be walking distance from Chinatown, from the N train to Sunset Park, from the R train to Elmhurst, and from the Chinatown buses. It would also be accessible to non-Chinese people from all over, of course.
Hm, now that I think about it, there are places in Lower Manhattan where people can go to gamble - perfectly legally. Unfortunately, you're not allowed in unless you're a member of an elite club. You can pay one of the club members to gamble on your behalf, but you lose the excitement of being there. Even then, many of these "brokers" require a minimum bet in the thousands, out of reach of many Chinese waiters. Oh, and they're only open from 9 AM to 4 PM.