NYT: Sport betting, gaming, and Tunica

Timothy Williams details the disappointing sports betting revenue, and the state of the gambling business in Tunica, Mississippi, in particular, for the New York Times:

The vast majority of states have shied away from permitting such gambling and tapping into the nation’s illegal sports gambling market, estimated to be worth $150 billion. But in places like Tunica, where people began legally betting on sports in August, the results, so far, have been underwhelming.

Sports betting is a logical addition to existing sports books and one I’d expect to have taken off right away. I wonder, though, whether Tunica’s problem isn’t their sports books per se, but rather a continuation of a long-running decline that sports betting has failed to blunt. Originally a curiosity for being an outpost of gaming action, Tunica succumbed to being in the middle of nowhere offering little beyond hotel-casinos.

Along Tunica’s Main Street, there is a bank, a grocery and an antique shop alongside a few empty storefronts. The residential sections include well-tended homes shaded by oak trees, but also tiny shotgun shacks.

These are not tourist attractions. Storefronts didn’t make Las Vegas a draw. There, resort hotels offer posh accommodations, dining, and varied spectacle for non-gamblers. Vegas’s age-old name cache makes it a top-tier vacation option.

Atlantic City, long in decline itself, possesses less spectacle and resort attraction. Half of the casinos open at the city’s peak tourist draw are now shuttered. The city’s sole non-gaming tourist attraction remains a beautiful stretch of Atlantic Ocean shoreline.

In the grand scheme of US gaming establishments, Tunica is perhaps only a regional draw. It’s difficult to support multiple hotel-casinos on regional interest, and a lower-income one at that.

Perhaps the primary factor harming sports betting’s aspirations, though, is the internet. The urge to bet sports is ephemeral, and few will linger hours in a sports book the way they will for slot machines and table games. Why travel at all for a brief interaction at the book? Sports bettors will wait for legal, online books to flourish while they continue patronizing illegal operations.

Internet casinos offering legal sports books will eventually garner the income projected for places like Tunica. And Las Vegas will remain, for a while yet, America’s playground for its wide variety of attractions.

The Bulwark: A warning, and an appeal

Sarah Longwell, The Bulwark:

Remember 2015? It was an exciting year for Republicans. There were 16 candidates running for president and a slight majority of them looked (at the time) like pretty good options. I remember spending a lot of time trying to decide which candidate in that distinguished pack would earn my vote. It was the rare election where Republicans weren’t going to have to choose between lesser evils. Whoever I voted for was going to be pretty solid. Maybe even great! 


And then there was this clown Donald Trump who has that NBC show I’d never watched and was once married to that woman with the accent who does the cameo in First Wives Club. What a joke. Ignore.


You know how this story ends. But in retrospect you can see where everything went wrong. And therein lies the cautionary tale for you, my Democratic friends.

Sometimes too much choice can lead to unpleasant results. Trump took me by surprise, just as he did Sarah Longwell. I dismissed him for good reasons, yet here we are.

I’m hopeful that by the time we hear Christmas music in stores we’re also down to three or four strong contenders for the Democratic nomination. Bernie Sanders will have enough of a war chest to stay in it until the Democratic convention. The same will be true for Joe Biden if he runs. I imagine Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris can, as well, given the breadth of their small-donor support. I’m unsure about the rest. I’m also unsure egos won’t prolong otherwise non-viable candidacies.

(Like Longwell, I’d like to see a Republican primary challenge to Trump, though I suspect he’d squeak through. Not enough conservatives will abandon the incumbent president.)

#trump #democrats #choice #candidates #convention #bernie #kamala #warren #biden


Kyle Korver, The Players’ Tribune:

What I’m realizing is, no matter how passionately I commit to being an ally, and no matter how unwavering my support is for NBA and WNBA players of color….. I’m still in this conversation from the privileged perspective of opting in to it. Which of course means that on the flip side, I could just as easily opt out of it. Every day, I’m given that choice — I’m granted that privilege — based on the color of my skin.

Pitch-perfect, Korver’s essay is perhaps the most lucid explanation of white privilege by a white guy I’ve encountered. Every paragraph conveys self-aware, first-hand understanding of the culture of whiteness in America.

If you’ve any doubt about the systemic nature of bigotry or the long-term effects of four-hundred years of ethnic-based mistreatment, you owe yourself the education of reading this. Everyone else should read it, too.

I, like Korver, believe that.

#NBA #privilege #bigotry #race

Max Boot: The dark side of American conservatism has taken over

Max Boot—The Washington Post:

The Republican Party will now be defined by Trump’s dark, divisive vision, with his depiction of Democrats as America-hating, criminal-coddling traitors, his vilification of the press as the “enemy of the people,” and his ugly invective against Mexicans and Muslims. The extremism that many Republicans of goodwill had been trying to push to the fringe of their party is now its governing ideology.

This is quite the Op Ed essay by a stalwart of the Republican party, or perhaps I should say, a stalwart conservative. Max Boot lays out the considered history of the Republican party, detailing how it went off the rails. By his lights it hasn’t been a recent change.

It’s long been my thinking that, given the enshrinement of the electoral college in our Constitution, America is rigidly bound to a two-party system and, as such, requires a robust intellectual and rhetorical effort by thoughtful, well-intentioned progressives and conservatives. It’s only by finding common ground between these two schools of thought that we reach livable consensus.

I’ve seen the corrosive effect of today’s hateful, nasty version of conservatism as practiced by the Trump GOP up close. What began with the rise of Newt Gingrich’s national coalition in 1994 has given us the bigoted, misogynist, and closed-minded Trumpist nationalists of today. Spittle-flecked invective replaces rational conversation, support for self-admitted sexual predators and crank conspiracists (and their ridiculous theories) becomes the norm, and contemporary “Republicans” become cheerleaders for the darkest and most shameful intentions.

Political parties are not permanent fixtures. They occasionally outlive their usefulness and pass into history. It’s high time the so-called “party of Lincoln,” a mantle the GOP shrugged off in the 1960s, passes from political relevance and is replaced by an American Conservative Party. There are among us fair-minded conservative intellectuals who can manage this. They have only to lead.

#GOP #American #conservatism

Friedman: Where American Politics Can Still Work: From the Bottom Up

Thomas Friedman — The New York Times:

We asked people: ‘What is the most important thing for a successful community?’

“The answers that came up over and over again,” Bressi said, “were a community that creates respect and unity, respect and unity. People want to be heard and want to be respected. And they want unity, no divides. They see the national trends, they feel the division and they don’t want it.”

A blueprint for civil and cultural renewal in communities spiraling downward; at its core this is about pragmatic politics, devoid of posturing and labeling. Well worth a read.

#AmericanRenewal #communityOrganization #grassRoots

Reminiscence for the Fourth

President Barack Obama’s speech at Selma marking ‘Bloody Sunday’ anniversary — The Washington Post:

That’s what America is. Not stock photos or airbrushed history or feeble attempts to define some of us as more American as others. We respect the past, but we don’t pine for it. We don’t fear the future; we grab for it. America is not some fragile thing; we are large, in the words of Whitman, containing multitudes. We are boisterous and diverse and full of energy, perpetually young in spirit.

the single most powerful word in our democracy is the word “We.” We The People. We Shall Overcome. Yes We Can. It is owned by no one. It belongs to everyone. Oh, what a glorious task we are given, to continually try to improve this great nation of ours.

I miss that man. I miss his leadership, grace, and intellect. Mostly, I miss that he led by uplift and encouragement, with a vision for bending the arc of history toward justice.

How far we have fallen in so short a time. We can and will do better. That’s America, too.

Happy 242nd Fourth of July.

#BarackObama #Selma #America #FourthofJuly

∴ Hobby Lobby manager calls cops on black customer

Noor Al-Sibai—RawStory:

Birmingham’s WVTM reported that customer Brian Spurlock both had his receipt and was well within the store’s 90-day return police when he brought the goods he wished to return to the Hobby Lobby location in Trussville. Nevertheless, the store’s manager would not let him return the most expensive of the items that Spurlock said was defective because it had already been opened.

Spurlock is black, making this another example of white folks using the police as a means of oppression.

Or maybe they’d pull this same trick on a white woman returning a defective product, right after she rode in on her pet unicorn.

See: police called by white manager of a Starbucks coffee shop on two black men waiting for a friend and arrest them; police called when three back people checked out of an AirBnB rental; or police called by white woman on a black grad student napping in her dorm common area at Yale, because, I guess, what would a black woman be doing sleeping in a Yale dorm? Living? Going to school there?


The thirteenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States states:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

“Except as a punishment for crime …”

And you thought slavery was illegal in the United States. Both Northern and Southern states, through their enactment of the infamous “black codes,” have used the cops and courts as means of keeping black and brown people in check ever since the Union gave up on Reconstruction. Today’s mass incarceration of black and brown folks far more than their proportion to the total population is but a continuation of the practice begun immediately following the Civil War.

America has a long and varied history of knocking down the black man. Slave labor began with the landing of kidnapped black Africans in 1619 (399 years under the white thumb), but the Federal codification of white claims on black bodies began in earnest with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. With that legislation officially sanctioning the right of whites to claim custody of black bodies without evidence of their slaveholding “ownership,” the United States moved to use it and the states’ law enforcement and judicial systems to keep the black man and woman in thrall. By law, a white man could point out any free black man or woman anywhere in the United States and claim them as his property on only his word.

How is Brian Spurlock’s near-arrest, and the arrest of other black and brown people across the US on trumped-up grounds anything but the descendant of these codes and laws? Each instance of false charges and incarceration is further evidence that for many, the American Dream is a nightmare, while for others of a lighter skin tone it is no more than a collective hallucination.

All men are created equalbut not equal before the law in the minds of many.

… that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The highest law of the land there, folks, written by a man who owned humans. There will come a reckoning for these crimes against humanity. We should be addressing inequity in all its forms now, rather than electing bigoted clowns to our high offices to keep white right.

#racismNeverDies #whiteSupremacy

#SayHerName: 100 Years Ago, Mary Turner Was Lynched

Lawrence Ware—VSB:

What happened next is so horrific and inhumane that I struggled with whether I should even write it. Tears obscure my vision as I write these words, yet, as America tries to ignore the bloody stain of a white supremacy as ubiquitous as it is haunting, we need to bear witness to Mary Turner. We cannot forget what she endured. It is certainly not reveling at the specter of black death to prevent time and the institutional white-washing of history to erase Turner from our collective memory, thereby retroactively saying that her life did not matter. We need to know what happened. But please understand that what comes next is triggering. What you read, you cannot unread; the mental images created, you cannot unsee.

People in this country like to think themselves as being above this kind of gruesome violence; as if the genocides we witness in other countries could never happen here. We’ve built an entire ethos on the notion of American moral exceptionalism. In fact, recent Congressional hearings about Gina Haspel, the intelligence officer nominated by the 45th president of the United States to be the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was all about discovering if she would live up to the moral expectations of citizens of this country. What Mary Turner and the subsequent silence about what happened in Georgia in 1918 teaches us is that America, at best, is morally compromised and, at worst, morally bankrupt.

I mentioned Mary Turner in an article this MLK Day, alongside Emmett Till and Ossian Sweet. You probably know who Till was. Turner? Click through to this post on Very Smart Brothas to read what became of her.

America is, in its contemporary conception, a fraud. It is a failed expression of an idea never quite realized and, as we read the words above, moving away from the ideal many of its people believe we’ve already obtained. Fools.

Keep dreamin’ that American dream. That’s all it is. May the scales fall from your eyes.

#lynching #whiteSupremacy