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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Gambling isn't healthy

While West Virginia Republicans are high-fiving themselves over having a sports betting law in place ahead of the Supreme Court ruling that states can do this, the reality is this is yet another step on the road to perdition.

Not to be "that guy" but -- actually, I want to be That Guy. I want to be a voice of sanity.

Like 49 other states, West Virginia banned gambling in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The reason was gambling was detrimental to society. People were hooked. Fortunes lost.

In the 1970s, though, state governments forgot the lessons of the past, and began legalizing state lotteries. The pitch was this would reduce taxes. The reality is the spending increased.

West Virginia joined the fray in 1984 with a lottery and legalized bingo. Contrary to popular belief, you can go through a fortune in bingo.

Among the few voices of reason was Ned Chilton, the legendary liberal publisher of the Gazette. After he died, his newspaper apologized for his foresight.

Lottery begat slot machines, which begat card games and mini-casinos, which begat sports betting.

We need to grow our economy. Gambling isn't growth. It is a cancer. Look what happened to Jack Whitaker after he "won."

I get that there is a lot of money to be had in gambling. I also get that the state preys upon the poor.

But it does that with cigarettes too. How much lung money does the state collect now? $1.20 a pack? How much of that money goes to pancreatic cancer or lung cancer research?

Next up is drug peddling. The state will legalize pot, and in a generation move on to the hard stuff.

Anything legalized for a buck.

Hey, why not legalize murder? A hunting season for humans might fetch enough to fund a 1% raise for teachers. We can split the pot with the victim's family.

The purpose of the state government is not to raise money, but rather to provide services. Lawmakers should be ashamed.


  1. Legalizing murder, if the age limits are set right, could lower the burden on social security and medicare! If you don't think that is how government thinks, you haven't been paying attention!

    1. Yet the anti-smoking campaign denied this clear logic.

      Hmm. It's as if some folks don't mean the things they say.

  2. Some people like to say that you cannot legislate morality, but the truth is that legislation is a reflection of your morality.

    If you are deficient in it that will be reflected in the kinds of laws that get passed and how they are enforced.

    Many states have lotteries and gambling now. Are they measurably better off? I'm sure the politicians and their gambling kingpin friends are.

    1. Agreed. The money that comes into the government does not go where they promised it would go when the laws were passed. It is another source of funding for political friends.

    2. I was living in CA when they legalized the lottery - to help fund education. Sure enough, the money brought in by the lottery was used for education, but the same amount of money was "deducted" from the general fund that would have gone to education. Thus there was no real additional money for education. Later, the lottery money was just transferred to the general fund instead of education to be used as the politicians wanted.

    3. @James Lynch


      Money is fungible. That is the *entire* point of money.

  3. Murder has already been legalized. It's called abortion!

  4. Big D, time for your chill pill. How’d that Prohibition thing work out? You can only work at vice around the edges. Yeah, I smoke, I drink, and I’d be first in line at the first legalized pot store in Martinsburg. People are people, and we all got our weaknesses. I ain’t gonna turn into some Buddhist monk just because of some taxes.

  5. Don is 100% right on this, but we never learn from our past mistakes.

  6. Legalizing duels could be OK.

  7. Taxing something means there'll be less of it; but gambling is a tax on stupidity, and somehow it leads to more.

    It is a Paradox!

  8. Never been to Vegas. Never going to go to Vegas either. Clip joint.

  9. This is a Constitutional issue. The morality of gambling is NOT the issue. That is an issue for states to decide.

    Can the Feds commandeer the states? No. It is also a great precedent for future cases!

    That's it. SCOTUS got it right.

  10. Gambling is stupid, but also a bit fun. Legalizing it and taxing it is mostly reasonable, but many folk are not mostly rational; and almost all folk are at least occasionally irrational.

    Gambling is a good tax on stupid -- but promotion of gambling is the promotion of stupid. And there are huge social costs to mostly reasonable but addicted-to-gambling people who "ruin their lives" because they stupidly gamble away all their assets, and the assets of their family members that they can get a hold of.

    There is a balance between freedom and who pays the costs for stupid mistakes of free folk?

    Maybe more registration of gamblers and reduced privacy, especially to parents & spouses? Maybe limit the collect-ability of legal gambling debts to be no more than IRS limits, but dischargable thru bankruptcy?

    It's certainly a states issue, not a Federal issue, and should probably be a city / county issue. Like prostitution in Nevada.