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They’ll Do It Every Time - 1.20.2007
This strip is a caricature of exactly how gambling laws work in most states. State-run lotteries are completely legal, and sanctioned by the government. Why then, are all other types of gambling outlawed?
Politicians’ answer: Because gambling addiction is a serious problem. It’s my job to save the people from themselves. Gambling is an evil, evil monster, and deserves to be outlawed in this state.
There are two obvious problems with this argument. The first is the obvious hypocritical nature of that type of answer. If gambling is so evil, why are state-sponsored lotteries legal? Because they benefit the government (and as such, presumably the common good)? So apparently, gambling addiction is worrisome if private individuals (and other winning gamblers) reap the windfall, but not if the state gets the profits to use as they see fit.
The second part of this whole thing is the idea that Americans need to be protected from themselves. Gambling can be addictive to a small percentage of people. So can alcohol, cigarettes, sex, food, and a number of other very legal things. Banning something because it causes a problem for a small number of people is simply ridiculous.
Since the house almost always has an edge in casino-gambling, in the long run, most gamblers will end up losing money. Everyone is aware of this, yet casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and on Indian reservations never seem to have a problem filling up their casinos. It’s just possible that people are aware of the fact that gambling is a losing proposition, but they simply don’t care because they’re having fun.
A night out at the ballpark is a money-losing endeavor. You spend money on tickets, overpriced hot dogs, beer, and those funny foam hands. When it’s all over, you have $100 less than you did that morning, but you don’t mind, because you had a good time. Many people seek out gambling for a similar purpose. It’s exciting, it’s fun, and if you get lucky, you’ll come home with more money than you started with. If not, you still had a good time. How is this a bad thing?
Can anyone provide me with a valid reason why gambling is illegal in most states? It simply doesn’t make sense why an activity that so many people enjoy would be outlawed at the behest of the government.