Now here’s a committed group of activists who have managed to avoid the common land mine of waffling on their supposed beliefs depending on which party is espousing action — the anti slots crowd.
It may be due to the coincidental overlapping of religion and morality based objections with the bipartisan goal of generating revenue without actually asking the big players to dig deeper – although I have seen many other instances when “morality” issues have taken a back seat to economic and partisan concerns (but that would be another post)
In the case of objections to slots, even though many of the consistent organizers are “faith based” organizations and their objections ultimately based on particular religious tenets, they are joined by many social scientist types who point to non-religion based research that purports to link legalized gambling to myriad social ills and economically catastrophic impacts on families, communities, businesses and industry.
While I happen to find the evidence that certain unfortunate patterns follow the inclusion of a legal gambling establishment in a community persuasive, ultimately I am a free choice for adults kind of chick and don’t believe a big brother of government ought to be telling me that I cannot engage in a friendly wager or a game of chance.
The arguments that these establishments frequently attract criminal elements strikes me as yet another problem of enforcement of existing laws against whatever other illegal or criminal activity may be taking place – but putting aside that argument for a moment, I think I may have a compromise.
First, acknowledging the significant economic potential for the state coffers by offering this lucrative taxable source of commerce and also acknowledging the real potential for peripheral criminal activities perhaps one answer would be for the state to operate the gambling establishments.
Not just “license” the activity to some kind of sub-contractor – but actually be the operator of the business. Then all economic incentives would flow to the state, not just the tax revenue. Food and drink concessions? Same thing.
Sure, that would mean expanding government – but not in the usual way. It would be expanding the operations of government to include generating income instead of only spending.
All the costs associated with policing, prosecuting, jailing convicted offenders, and liability issues arising from illegal or otherwise actionable events would be paid out of the operating revenue from the gambling activities.
That way, eventually we would have a definitive answer to whether or not gambling is the economic boon some insist — or whether other increased costs are absorbed by other revenue streams as others insist.
Of course there will still be some economic and social costs that don’t get billed directly to the source – but that happens with other already legal activities that desimate families and communities — such as alcohol, tobacco and firearms.
So lets give it a whirl – state owned and operated gambling —- if we are going to get stuck with the bills we should get ALL the income.