Archive for March, 2011

11
Mar
11

Government Gambling Hypocrisy

One thing that really chaps my hide is hypocrisy–especially when government officials are involved.

For instance, I caught part of a recent TV news broadcast that showed where arrests were made over “illegal” video poker machines, in the Columbia, SC area. I fail to see how video games can be involved in crime, but maybe I’m just stupid and need the we-know-how-to-run-your-life-better-than-you-do folks in the SC State Legislature to enlighten me.

When the battle lines were first drawn, opponents of video poker said such things as, “Video poker takes food out of kids mouths, because some people have gambling problems and dump most of their money into these games.” Because of these (unsubstantiated) claims, SC lawmakers outlawed video poker, several years ago. They said, “Gambling is wrong!”

But almost immediately, SC Government unveiled a plan to run a statewide lottery. They named it the “South Carolina Education Lottery,” and vowed to send tons of money raised through ticket sales to the state’s education system, so that most people who don’t really care for gambling would support it–or, at least, turn a blind eye and let it pass. “It’s for the children!” (wink, wink).

What’s the difference between buying lottery tickets and playing video poker? At least with the video game, if you’re good you can play for quite a while on just a few dollars–and, back in the good ol’ days, many people regularly won payouts, until those were made illegal, too.

With lottery tickets, you can blow your whole paycheck, in 5 easy minutes, at a convenience store checkout counter–and then take your chances with odds that show you’re many times more likely to be struck by lightning than win the lottery jackpot. Heck, the computer will even generate numbers for you, so you don’t even have to think!

Government views its statewide, State-run gambling system to be a wonderful thing, but they will restrict charity raffles and send armed officers to bust into the homes of peaceful, little old ladies playing a friendly, private game of poker with a few friends around the kitchen table–again, because “gambling is wrong!” (Yes, busting in on ‘grandma’ actually happened.)

South Carolina legislators and liberal media constantly, and unjustly, also targeted “payday lenders,” because they said people can get caught up in a “cycle of debt.” Personally, I hardly see a $45 charge for a very short-term $300 loan being cause to destroy an entire industry–and the jobs that went with it–especially when the State runs the largest gambling operation, and the banks that the State Government often partners with make millions of dollars in interest and fees. But what do I know, right?

The kicker: While government says “gambling is wrong,” the government-run South Carolina Education Lottery runs commercials advertising a gambling hotline–that’s right, a GAMBLING HOTLINE–for anyone who needs help with a gambling problem.

Am I missing something, here?

Apparently, if something is “wrong” it suddenly becomes perfectly acceptable if government can control it (regulate) and make money from it (taxes, tickets sales, etc.).

Hypocrisy, plain and simple.