American Government Attitude Towards Gambling is Laughable
I have traveled, and gambled in over 20 countries around the world. Macao. Las Vegas , Atlantic City, London, Frankfurt, Indonesia, New Zealand, Philippines, Brazil, Aruba, and more. In most countries, gambling of all types is allowed, even if licensed, taxed, and controlled.
In almost all cases the governments do not own gambling rights, but licenses their availability, except in America where state governments are so vested in protecting their "taxes" -and that's what most low-end gambling is (slots, scratchoffs, lottery, bingo, whatever), that rational consideration of the forms of gambling entertainment enjoyed by others- table games like Poker, Blackjack, Roulette, Pai Gow, and many others, selected and enjoyed by different customers for different reasons, are rejected. Lower income slots and lottery players are targeted by states precisely because of their desire for entertainment,precisely because this type of gambling is the most economical to install,manage and control…and tax. Tax rates for slots and lottery, including scratchoffs are the highest, because they are the most profitable. Example? A "street" three digit bet -a Pick Three- odds are approx 900 to one. Maryland, like other states pays only 500 to one. The difference? State profit (read taxes). That, my friends, is state cynicism at it's best.
In Maryland, my home state, slots proposals were so screwed up by the state legislative desire for strict control to satisfy religious groups that the state is being sued by one bidder, and bids weren't received for some state-selected locations because of doubts about the fees and level of taxes. The state knew that this was the "nose under the tent" for gambling, even legislative whispers expected legislation within a year or two to expand the scope of gambling to include "entertainment gambling" the type enjoyed by more upscale consumers who want a good meal, some entertainment by major acts; in other words the type of gambling seen the world over.
Many voices, including mine were able to suggest the four or five best locations that were rational, most attractive to Visitors who wanted them as entertainment, and offered the most profitability (translate tax revenue") for the governments.
Now, the federal gambling aspect. From the Wall Street Journal article:
"U.S. Deals Blow to Online-Poker Players."
The gist if this piece was Federal authorities in New York froze the bank accounts of 27,000 Online Poker players, worth over $34 million. Rep. Frank has introduced legislation that would legalize and regulate Interstate gambling. Good for him! It will be one of the few things he can do to make up for his egregious mistakes (along with others), some Trillions of dollars worth.
The real key will be how to control gambling sites located outside the U.S. . They shouldn't be licensed for U.S. business without strict regulation and onsite "Gambling Commission" regulators, qualified to detect and prevent the kinds of computer cheating that some sites allow, even engage in. One site is reported to have cheated players out of $24 million,maybe more. Other do the same.
I don't know why I'm surprised, even though gambling in and of itself is mind-bogglingly profitable, companies who cheat their players get even more.
Las Vegas used to say, 'We love big winners! They go home, tell all their friends, and pretty soon we've got all that back and more."
Let's get Online gambling, fully vetted and regulated, only taxed as other corporations are (taxes are another column!), and let the free marketplace perform it's magic.
The Internet is the way to provide more entertainment to more people, and continues to drive innovation in every aspect of world society, almost always for the better.
Why shouldn't we have some fun too?