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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Play to Extinction

One of our fellow readers sent me this link a while back, and it is really an interesting article about gambling as an 'industry':


This article covers a lot of territory, from government sponsorship of addiction to the 'play to extinction' design of the modern gambling apotheosis, the Slot machine.  It is actually rather frightening when you look at how the who world of gambling has been 'repackaged' with terminology designed to keep us from seeing the reality.

Here's some of that reality, as composed by the author:

  • No other form of “entertainment” causes significant harm to people who “enjoy” it frequently, including the loss of thousands of dollars per hour.
  • No other form of “entertainment” depends on profits generated by those who suffer from problems of addiction linked to the entertainment.
  • No other form of “entertainment” is often urged (and typically refuses) to provide information to those being entertained about its risks.
  • No other form of “entertainment” provides free alcohol to those being entertained with the express purpose of encouraging impulsivity, faulty cognition and reckless behavior. 
  • No other purported form of “entertainment” requires such high levels of taxation, regulation and government oversight when it constitutes a business as opposed to a private, small-scale activity and, most regrettable of all:
  • No other form of “entertainment”, in recent times, is heavily promoted by government.

Yes, our governments do sponsor gambling.  From legal casinos to state-run lotteries, our politicians use gambling as a means of revenue raising.  There's a lot of tax money involved, and so long as the bureaucrats get their share, most are perfectly will to let citizens get fleeced.  After all, it is all voluntary.

Sure, you could try to make an argument that there is no difference between taxing gambling and taxing alcohol.  But, that does not work for several reasons:

  1. States don't run breweries or distilleries, whereas states do run lotteries.
  2. The vast majority of alcohol consumed in the US is not consumed alcoholically (i.e. part of addictive behavior), whereas a large chunk of gambling revenues are from gambling addicts.
  3. Governments hold various controls over alcohol sales and consumption (i.e. public intoxication laws, extremely high tax rates, etc.) that it does not do for gambling, particularly lotteries.

The point here is that our states often profit from what is vice.  The government knows that this stuff is bad, but it lets it continue.

Sure, you can make the argument that people are going to gamble.  However, by totally caving and allowing an industry of purposefully designed hypnosis machines to to set up shop right under everyone's noses... what are we agreeing to?  These machines are designed to get people to lose... and lose big-time.

Government regulators know that these machines really pay out very little, and that people become hypnotized by them, but allows them to continue on.

I'm not calling for 'prohibition,' because I know there is no way to ban all forms of gambling.  However, I do think that our government does not need to get into bed with these crooks who take advantage of addicts.



2 comments:

  1. Gambling addiction sounds absolutely terrifying to me. I don't see any potential for safe use. "Responsible gambling" just sounds like a contradiction in terms.

    Monks brewed beer, but whoever heard of a Christian casino? There's a reason for that.

    And the fact that casinos are popping up like weeds -- all sponsored by the state -- is a pretty telling sign of our country's decline.

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  2. Crooks is far too kind a word.

    Add act 2 here to your references. Ugly, ugly industry.
    http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/466/blackjack

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