Gambling is a fool’s pastime, and a fool and his money will soon be parted like the proverb says, but gambling is also a disease. It’s in this capacity, as a sick person, that I beg all you councilmen and-women, elected officials and public representatives, not to bring this infectious scourge into your communities.

It’s too late for us here in Louisiana. The state has approved gambling, and New Orleans is just now poised on the verge of allowing the building of a mammoth fleece-the-suckers parlor that would put Vegas to shame. It would comprise acres of Mississippi River-front property dotted with defrauding instruments and easy scams. The proposal envisions, of course, great economic development in the shadow of this gargantuan thieves’ den. I suggest that one inevitable development will be franchises of Dr. Kevorkian Suicide Parlors for the growing multitudes of the destitute. New Orleans has also approved riverboat gambling, which should give the town back its merry cutthroat reputation of the last century, and poker machines, which will insure that entire welfare checks get spent to the last nickel.

I know wherefrom I speak. Every time I sat before a blackjack dealer in Vegas, Reno, or Budapest, I had the sublime experience of working for most of the night in order to lose everything in my pockets. Happily, I never had much to lose. But the work it took! Like a guy next to me said in Reno while actually winning, “If they paid me this lousy per hour to work out there I would tell them where to shove it!”

Unfortunately, there is no “out there” for the gambler, only a sick, neon-lit, cigarette-smoke-filled eternal “in there,” where time has stopped and nothing interrupts the hypnotic labor except utter destitution. Ask Dostoyevsky. There is no such thing as “gambling for fun.” That’s what all the junkies say. They also say that they can quit any time. Don’t believe them. And leave your dough in your pillow next time you visit. You don’t yet know what it means to really miss New Orleans.