Is it time to legalize gambling in North Carolina?

The contortions that editorial writers have to go through to make a case for banning video poker in North Carolina would be funny if they weren't so sad. Today's half-baked advocacy in the Greensboro News-Record is telling.

Sound public policy demands a better effort to eradicate an unhealthy influence from society. It's true that people can satisfy their urge to gamble by visiting Cherokee or legal casinos in other states, playing games of chance online and, yes, buying North Carolina lottery tickets. Yet there's good reason to draw a line somewhere. Video poker is over the line.

There may once have been good reason to draw a line somewhere, but that opportunity was wildly missed when the State itself got into the business of gambling to fund public education. Standing at the bottom of that slippery slope, North Carolina policy makers have no business imposing a different morality on the private pursuit of games of chance.

Depending on which state you use for comparison, it seems that properly licensed gambling businesses in North Carolina could generate several hundred million dollars in tax revenue annually. Projections in Nevada from gambling are pegged at nearly $1 billion for the upcoming fiscal year.

With our governor and legislators scrambling like crazy to generate more and more suckers for the NC Education Lottery, isn't it time to spread the wealth? If it's okay to bless the roll of dice to fund public education, it's probably long past time to let the rest of the chips fall where they may.

Comments

I'm no fan of gambling

But I'm even less of a fan of having hypocrisy stitched so deeply into the fabric of our culture.

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“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

I am a HUGE FAN OF GAMBLING!

I've been to Atlantic City, I have been on the Casino Boats at Mrtyle Beach, I've been to Las Vegas. All three of these areas are BOOM TOWNS that are growing by leaps and bounds. I don't want to attribute that to the Casinos but it is part of the culture of those towns. Las Vegas would be nothing with out the Casinos and Hotel Resorts their. Just imajine Raleigh with a couple of those REALLY NICE ONE LIKE THE Bellagio, or Venitian WOW! That would be great. Heck I will even take a Ceasars Palace or a couple of Harrahs I'm not pickly! But it would be easy Tax Revenue for the State! I'm just saying! Plus think about the tourism. People from VA an SC would be coming here in droves. That would increse the tax reveune and the tax base.

Anthony D. Hall,

Fighting for Truth, Justice, Freedom and the American Way!

Starting with video poker

$100 million in tax revenues, says the bill's sponsor.

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“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

Why stop at $100 million

Jon Gettman at George Mason university has found an opportunity to bring in $31.1 Billion in taxes on the federal level. That would fix North Carolina and California's budget problems, with $10 billion left over.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

Of course we should legalize gambling

We already have legalized gambling - donating to political campaigns and "hoping" that they actually do what they say they will do (and the odds are worse than Vegas!)

Seriously though, the impetus for legalization should not be the state's desire for more revenue. Gambling should be legalized because people have the right to gamble, taxed or otherwise. On the other hand, contract killing should not be legal, regardless of whether the state could make money by placing a tax on it.

The idea that people can't be responsible for themselves is paternalistic and frankly absurd considering it is an idea that generally is promoted by the only group in society (the state) that consistently provides the most convincing evidence that perhaps people really are immature, irrational babies who can't take be trusted with responsibility. If a woman can be "trusted" with the decision of whether or not to end the life of a fetus (a clearly controversial and burdensome decision), it's absurd to say that she can't be "trusted" to gamble some of her money.

And no, gambling shouldn't be licensed. Plenty of people gamble all of the time already without a license. A licensing system would just mean that only the savvy (wealthy) would have the state's permission to operate gambling establishments, and the gambling poor would be funneled to the casinos to flush their money to the politically-connected fat cats.

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

Motives are irrelevant

agreed. Do it for the revenue potential, or do it for the principle, I don't care. Just do it. And tax the living hell out of it. Right?

Just kidding. I know you hate taxes.

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“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

Haha

Well the thing about taxing things that poorer people use or engage in disproportionately (tobacco, alcohol, gambling) is that it defeats the purpose of funding a government, even if pigs can fly and that government does exist to promote egalitarianism rather than perpetuating a rigged economic system in favor of the wealthy ruling class.

But yea. Legalize it. Along with pot for heaven's sake.

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

I'm begining to like the way you think!

Yes legalizing it is the best way forward. Listen the state is already leaning to the left. Lets push the state all the way to the left and get this thing going. Listen. Nobody really wants to see Police Officers and Fire Fighters and Teachers Laid off do we? I don't think so. This is easy money. If people want to throw it a way why should we stop them. Gambling is capitalism at it's fineist. Republicans say they are for Capitalism and Big Business then they should Love this Idea. Real Estate Moguls and Big Hotel Chains would Benefit Greatly. Raleigh with a Little Vegas Style to would be Great! I mean I love Raleigh Now but It has got nothing on Vegas but I think it has the same potential.

Anthony D. Hall,

Fighting for Truth, Justice, Freedom and the American Way!

You know your right!

The Left Wing Gambled and put all our chips on Barack Obama and we WON! YEAH! I'm all for gambling when the odds are in our favor!

Anthony D. Hall,

Fighting for Truth, Justice, Freedom and the American Way!

Wanna talk about job creation?

Video poker, for all intents and purposes, is a sucker's game. One given more to chance than say Texas Hold Em poker, or even Blackjack. Video poker is a draining game where this is no guarantee of fairness, yet I believe that if folks want to spend their money on that, as opposed to say "Photo Hunt," at a local pub, then by all means go ahead.

However, the casino industry would be fantastic for this state. Unlike Cherokee, where the games are all electronic and relatively easy to maintain, a full fledged casino would be a tremendous boon to our state. Job creation would go through the roof as staff will be needed to manage, deal games, exchange money/chips, market, secure, etc. - and that is only after the place is up and running. We start with great design and construction jobs that will get moving quickly.

Also, being the only state within driving distance for many gamblers (its easy to see folks from South Carolina, southern Virginia, eastern Tennessee and easter Georgia) driving in to partake of legalized, exciting casino activity. The state is a huge winner in this respect. However, I feel that it is unjust moral consternation that drives this decision. I agree that folks should be allowed to spend their money whatever they please. If we can provide legal, private enterprise to flourish in this state simply by pushing through gambling initiatives supported by multitudes of other states, I think it should come under serious consideration. I understand that lawmakers, keen to keep the buckle in their Bible belt shiny, will be up in arms decrying this move as a slight to our morals and destructive to families, but in reality it can be a sensible, effective stimulant for our economy and for progressive goals throughout.

We are truly doing ourselves a disservice by not making this issue more transparent and allowing for a more rigorous debate. We all stand to make a lot from this deal, while only losing the same "moral fabric" that conservatives thought we lost 40 years ago. Video poker can be more prevalent, taxed appropriately and useful to local communities. But let this only to be a toe in the water, before the rest of the body dives right in.

-- A liberal originally from Yadkin County. Did I just blow your mind?

I don't mean to be contrarian (well, sometimes)

While I agree with what you are saying, just as I'm not keen on implementing policy based on how much money the state will make from it, I'm also not in favor of implementing policies simply because it would "create jobs." If the government pays 10 people to run around the city at night, at 30 day intervals, throwing rocks into windows, there will be more jobs because the window repair companies will be able to hire more employees. The fact that it creates jobs, however, does not necessarily mean that it will improve the economy.

Job creation isn't necessarily a good thing in-and-of-itself. We don't have jobs because we like to work (unless you get paid for doing what you enjoy doing anyway), we have jobs because we like to consume. What has happened, of course, is that the producers have gained control of the state and have dictated the terms of the debate, arguing for policies that increase production/jobs without regard for the real reason we produce things and work to begin with. In other words, everyone getting paid at these new casino jobs are essentially getting paid for providing others with the thrill of gambling. Now, I'm all for viewing values subjectively in the political sense - I don't think we should legislate (use violence) just because we have different preferences than consumers. That said, my own personal opinion is that the "thrill of gambling" is an artificial value that people have because their lives are otherwise more dull than they could be (and they, perhaps, are more desperate to get-rich-quick). In essence, I'm saying that casinos don't really improve our quality of life because the money to pay the wage labor employed to run the casinos is coming out of the pockets of (usually) other wage earners. It's just treading water. Nothing truly "useful", in my opinion, is being produced besides a temporary thrill that people get gambling their money.

That's why my desire to legalize gambling is based on a moral concern for human freedom alone, and the rights of citizens to behave peacefully and voluntarily without violence interference by the state.

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

We see your moral concern

And raise you some practical considerations. As I wrote earlier, motives don't matter if the end result works.

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“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

I dont disagree with the morality you champion

but I think it should be left, mostly, out of consideration for something such as this. All too often, what veils as "morality" serves as a roadblock (or, horribly, a bomb) - obstructing the progressive ideas and innovative ways in which our state can work smartly and reap rewards.

Again, hear me out, I am not looking out specifically for the interests of the state. I am looking out for the overall benefits (with relatively low disapprovals/concerns) that a casino would bring. The argument I make it to go above and beyond a simple casino - which you have in Cherokee. Make it a resort, so that folks can enjoy the business without having to engage in gambling. Folks go to Cherokee specifically to gamble, knowing that, in the end, the house gets your money. However, casinos can/should be allowed to utilize accomodations, facilities and amenities that allow the tourist to join with the native and enjoy the place as they so choose. Plus, casinos, unlike video machines, can provide folks with games that are not based on chance - such as live poker, where skill and mathematics are more important than any single streak of luck.

And besides, on this issue, as with so many others, I feel that North Carolina has and should continue to be a leader and risk taker. Tar Heels have always prided themselves on being a bit smarter, sharper and progressive than many of our neighbors, so why not put it to use in a way that bring more spirit to our citizens, booster our sagging tourism numbers while still allowing folks to choose, freely, how best to use their entertainment dollars? Obviously we dont make decision based on lessons we feel can be taught to neighboring states, but similarly, we shouldn't make decisions (or restrict liberties) based solely on a moral or ethical code that is perfectly acceptable for private matters, but harmful and distracting to broader initiatives.

-- A liberal originally from Yadkin County. Did I just blow your mind?

You are Wrong on so many levels!

Job creation isn't necessarily a good thing in-and-of-itself

Excuse me but that is just plum Crazy. Job Creation in and of itself is a wonderful thing. It keeps people off the Street and in their houses. Think about it like this.

You "Small Government Guys" want people off, Welfare and to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

You don't want to fund Financial Aid Programs that give people an opportunity to go to College and get a good job.

What do you guys want. You don't want someone who just got laid off to have Health Care to take care of his family.

Right now our Labor Marketed is FLOODED With Human Resources being under utilized. BECAUSE WE ARE ALL COMPETING FOR THE SAME JOBS. A little Job Creation will get people out of the Unemployment office and back to work.

I don't care what the job is. Any job is a good job when your wife and kids are hungry and it is your job to feed them. I can tell that some of you haven't been to those extremes so excuse me for speaking on subjects that you know very little about.

People are in desperate need right now!

And if this will increase tax revenue for the State and they don't have to lay anyone off then that is a plus also.

Anthony D. Hall,

Fighting for Truth, Justice, Freedom and the American Way!

If only we could have

You're right, if only we could have 100% employment, like the USSR and Cuba, two countries with amazing standards of living.

I have to agree with Dr. Q. Job creation is not necessarily a good thing. Since we're on BlueNC, I am assuming you disapprove with Bush and Obama's War in Iraq. But according to your logic you should support all wars, because they provide employment for soldiers.

Of course

I'm not in favor of WAR don't be ridiculous!

What I am in favor of is a Policy that would prevent OUR companies from setting up shop overseas only to send those goods back here to be purchased in the united states.

What I am in favor of is a Policy putting an end to all these visas that allow people from other countries to come here and take jobs from people here in the united states.

What I am in favor of is a Policy that would put MORE TARRIFS on Imports to our country.

What I am in favor of is a Policy that would PUNISH companies that hire Illegal imigrants.

What I am in favor of is Doing away with NAFTA and all those Un Fair Trade Policies.

Anthony D. Hall,

Fighting for Truth, Justice, Freedom and the American Way!

There needs to be a new Godwin's Law:

when someone evokes the Soviet Union to argue against any kind of government-subsidized program, they need to be exposed for the mind-numbingly obtuse fool that they are.

Ok...

Well good thing no one is using the example of the Soviet Union to argue against government subsidized programs.

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

And what is this, praytell?

You're right, if only we could have 100% employment, like the USSR and Cuba, two countries with amazing standards of living.

You should already know this, but when someone replies to another's comment, the reply falls below and slightly to the right of the specific comment being addressed. It's not always about you, Dr. Q.

Wow

Why don't you tell me what you think that statement means. Because it certainly doesn't have anything to do with government subsidized programs or using the USSR as an example of why government-subsidized programs are bad.

Believe it or not, I'm fully aware of how the comment system works. It's funny that you would accuse me of being unaware of what was going on in the conversation when you apparently don't even know what the conversation was about, or why the comment in question was made.

The point of bringing up the USSR is clearly to illustrate the fallacious thinking behind the claim that "creating jobs" is always a "good" end, in and of itself. Paying one half of the population to dig holes and paying the other half to fill them back in sure would "create jobs" but it would also contribute zero total wealth to society. A society can have high employment (e.g. the USSR) and yet a low standard of living.

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"The natural wage of labor is its product." -- Benjamin R. Tucker
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it’s working the way it’s supposed to.

Semantics

Here's your definition of "illustrate":

to clarify or explain by use of examples or comparisons

Please note the word "examples", Dr. Q.

His comment was extreme, along the lines of showing an image of Obama with a red star superimposed on his forehead or referring to him as, "Chairman". And this comment is pure nonsense:

Paying one half of the population to dig holes and paying the other half to fill them back in

Obama's plan hopes to generate between 3 to 4 million jobs, which is roughly 2.5% of our working population. To compare it to an en masse population employment system like the former USSR is more about evoking unfounded fears of Socialism than trying to "illustrate" a fallacy in policy.

Not to mention, our society does have (relatively) high employment, and an extremely high standard of living. The analogy of 100% employment and across-the-board poverty living side-by-side is pointless, and (again) more about trying to make an ideological connection between Obama and Lenin.

Now, I will agree that creating jobs without an eye towards career longevity or long-term business plans is not altogether wise and could postpone/undermine real growth. But our consumer-based economy is stalled, and way too many businesses (small and large) are slipping into the red.

So let's stop trying to paint mental pictures of old ladies in babushkas fighting over a loaf of stale black bread and try to come up with some real ideas about bringing our unemployment back down to 5% or so, okay?. You want to talk about specific impediments to the generation of wealth, like counterproductive mega-corporation-friendly regulations, or tax policies that discourage entrepreneurship, I can dig it. But we ain't gonna dismantle the Fed or walk around with gold coins jingling in our pockets, so let's try to be reasonable.

Channeling Dr. Q

I'm guessing the Doctor is totally cool with whatever the natural level of unemployment rises to at any time, so long as it's not an artifact of government intervention.

If a few million people go homeless, no big deal. If they go homeless in winter and die on the streets, tough shit. If a few million more end up in emergency rooms for lack of health care, or overwhelm public services because of personal bankruptcy, too bad so sad.

The fundamental precept of free market mania is this: you're on your own. Tough shit if you can't make it. Darwin was right. If you happen to be poor, stupid, handicapped, mentally ill, or just flat out unlucky, you deserve to die.

Right doc?

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“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

Great point, CD

The taxation benefits are only the tip of the iceberg. Construction jobs, service jobs, travel and tourism jobs, you name it.

Just look at all the people working in the NC Education Lottery. Now multiply that many thousands.

Plus we'd have the added benefit of putting the lottery out of business.

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“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

Am I right

to assume you dislike the lottery because it is a regressive tax? If so I have to point out the hypocrisy in replacing the lottery with another regressive tax (a tax on gambling). I agree with legalization of gambling, but taxing it would be just as harmful to the poor as the lottery.

No

I dislike the lottery because it is a cowardly and unreliable way to fund public education. The fact that it is also a regressive tax is a small factor in my view.

I don't know enough about big time gambling to know how regressive it is in term of tax impacts. The friends I have who go to Vegas to gamble for vacation are mostly pretty well off.

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“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden

Red light

Looks like daddy is taking care of things, so all you immature ne'er do wells won't be tempted to lose your hard earned money on games of chance.

Just goes to show. When you're running a state-sponsored whore house, you'll do just about anything to keep run-of-the-mill streetwalkers off your turf.

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“Don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I'll tell you what you value.”
― Joe Biden