The Allure of Gambling
The good thing about gambling is that I don’t gamble. That means that those who do (legally) pay taxes that I don’t have to pay. I don’t mean that I haven’t or won’t gamble at all. It just means that it isn’t something that draws me. And, when I have gambled, I don’t get excited when winning, but would prefer not to lose. So, I treat it like entertainment with a dollar cap. However, the big thing is someone else pays the taxes.
Some of those are people who don’t pay much taxes. I know, I know. Gambling, as in casino gambling, isn’t a poor man’s sport. However, whoever is gambling will pay more taxes than he would have otherwise. That is, if he hasn’t blown his money and can’t buy normal goods and services. As for gambling in general, it is likely that the lottery attracts a broader clientele that includes the less affluent. Those are taxes I don’t have to pay.
Of course, there are still illegal gambling such as numbers and heavy duty card games. In Florida, I think it’s illegal to have more than $10 in the pot at a private game in your home. Whatever the circumstances, the illegal operations don’t create revenue for the government. Money is what it’s all about, and the “about” being whether to permit casino gambling outside of Indian reservations.
The state needs money, or, at least, wants more money. For the state, there is money in gambling; for the gambling operations there is money in gambling; for the employes there is money in gambling; for the players more will lose than will win or there wouldn’t be all that money for everyone else. Three out of four is pretty good. The bet is that casino gambling is coming.
There are all sorts of arguments against it, many of them good. The moral issue is probably dead, however. We already have greyhound and horse race gambling and the state lottery is a big thing. The state loves it because the money, supposedly, goes to help seniors. A good cause will justify anything. People seem to like it because it only takes a buck or so to get into the game, and someone wins sometimes. All in all, however, gambling is here. It’s just a matter of more. It’s not going to be less. That’s a sure bet.
That’s a competitive thing. If Florida doesn’t have it, it can’t compete with other states (and the islands) to be a destination for tourists. It’s all about new money. The question is will it draw new money? Other states have started smaller - slots only - then moved on to table games, entertainment, restaurants. The problem is that more and more states are doing it. At what point will there be parity? When will having “it” all, will become the norm? Or, will there always be a new gimmick to draw customers?
Then there’s the other issue about money. How much gets put into the political system? There will be more money poured into a system with too much money already. Persuasion money is already there, you can bet. Money for licenses, money for regulations or non-regulations, how much and how to tax. You get the picture. Not saying anything is criminal. It’s the way it is.
Of course, the concern is whether all-out gambling will be a net positive for the state. Will crime increase? Will there be infrastructure requirements the state will have to cover? How costly will gambling addiction be? There’s plenty of material out there to study. I’ve always been surprised by those who say “ it will be different here”. No it won’t. The same elements are at work: human nature, money, politics, government.
It’s always nice to find someone else to pay your bills, or taxes, as in this case. If the project goes through, money will undoubtedly pour into the state coffers. Surely, there will be new social projects on which to spend it. What happens, though when the music stops?