Silicon Valley's latest speculative bubble
by Jim Hightower
Get ready for the rapture! Not the religious kind, but a financial rapture being promised to us by the holy spirits of Silicon Valley.
Actually, making a financial killing is the religion of the Valleyites, and top tekkies there are currently in a quasi-religious swoon over what they prophesize to be the Next Big Thing for America. Ready for what they're offering as our economic salvation? Online gambling. Hallelujah! Multibillions of dollars, they exult, will flow like manna from heaven as everyday gambling sweeps across the land through our iPads and even our cell phones.
Gambling is to be as simple as buying an e-book, they brag. No need to go to a casino, or anywhere for that matter – you'll have the convenience of placing bets right from the comfort of your own La-Z-Boy, while enjoying the whole experience with your "virtual friends." Oh, how nice. Virtual, as in not actual. Gosh, I hope you are as ecstatic about this I am.
Ecstatic or not, here it comes. With visions of new tax revenue flowing like a mighty river from the munificent gods of mass online wagering, Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey are already tweaking their laws in a rush to bring this effervescent "industry" streaming into the lives of their residents.
Meanwhile, top Siliconners from Amazon, Apple, and Google are excitedly investing in the exuberance of this phenomenon. "Everybody," says the co-founder of MySpace, "is really anticipating this becoming a huge business." The game maker Zynga has jumped out front with an ad promoting its first online betting game, urging everyone to, "Live the dream!"
Hmmm – notice the proliferation of such fuzzy concepts as exuberance, anticipation, and dream. Is anything about this prophecy of a new "industry" real – or are they just conjuring up another speculative bubble?
"Tech Industry Sets Its Sights On Gambling," The New York Times, February 18, 2013.http://www.jimhightower.com/node/7969