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Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Fritz Schranck discusses the well documented fact that lower income people contribute disproportionately to government revenues by playing state lotteries. Fritz' comment that purchasing a lottery ticket is a voluntary action by adults who are apparently relatively well informed about the nature of their bet is well taken, and I cannot disagree more with the "critics" who consider state run lotteries just one more exploitation of the financially challenged.

But Fritz left out the best part. Part of the reason that New Jersey, at least, adopted the lottery was to displace organized crime. One major reason behind the move by New Jersey into gambling was that it would cut off a source of funding for the mob. And my guess (without any research whatsoever) is that state lotteries have been somewhere between moderately and wildly successful in this regard. Organized crime just doesn't appear to be in the numbers racket any more. So in addition to providing the state with a substantial alternate revenue source to replace the lottery the "critics" would ban, those same "critics" should should also have to explain how they are going to prevent a renaissance of the mob's numbers game, and why it is so much better for a poor person to place a bet with organized crime than to place that same bet with the governor of the state.

This is one area in which the nanny state is powerless to protect us from ourselves. It appears that people in general, and poor people in particular, are going to gamble. The only question about which there can be any debate is who the bookie is.
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