Opening Arguments in My Gambling Debate

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Mine is here. My opponent’s is here.

May the best bald guy win!

MORE:  Interesting. Support from my side went from 85% to 46% in a little over three hours, during which no new arguments were posted. Wondering if a Baptist convention just let out.

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77 Responses to “Opening Arguments in My Gambling Debate”

  1. #1 |  Michael Pack | 

    Well played sir

  2. #2 |  Brian Moore | 

    If you get a chance to respond, you might note that a great deal of your opponent’s arguments argue against “stopping government sponsored gambling” instead of regulating private gambling, for the obvious reason that it’s a stronger argument.

    Just my 2 cents. Good work so far!

  3. #3 |  MDGuy | 

    When you mentioned the debate in yesterday’s post I immediately thought of the SWAT raid in Virginia from a few years ago. So I was glad to see that you opened your argument with the Sal Culosi story, demonstrating (as usual) that the effects of the prohibition are worse than the effects of the “crime.”

  4. #4 |  Rhayader | 

    Radley obviously wins.

    I just pointed this out on the first post about this debate from last night, but this claim from Bernal was especially ridiculous:

    More than one out of five citizens now believe the best way to secure their financial future is to play the lottery.

    Seriously. He says that. Of course, more than 3 out of every 5 guys named “Les Bernal” completely fabricate statistics, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

  5. #5 |  primus | 

    The problem with all regulations is in the implementation. The case where the cop entrapped Mr. Culosi, then undertook a SWAT raid is an obvious case of over-enforcement. We see this all the time with overly enthusiastic prosecutors, cops etc. This is unavoidable, because the cops etc. are humans, so they tend to over-exploit any opportunity, as all human beings do. When we give them new regulations, we give them more opportunities to over-enforce the law and use it in ways that were never intended initially. The totally predictable outcomes of this over-enforcement is then used as supporting arguments for continued over-enforcement. Repeat ad nauseum.

  6. #6 |  primus | 

    78.3% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

  7. #7 |  Highway | 

    It’s probably some dumb study where they just asked people “what would be the best way to secure your financial future” and everyone of course immediately thought “winning the lottery”. That only 20% of people put that down as their actual answer doesn’t mean a lot more people think it’d be great to win the lottery. Even most of the folks who answered something else would love to win the lottery, and probably think that would be ‘the best’ way to get financially sound. Not that they actually play it.

  8. #8 |  bobzbob | 

    I have friends in the legislature who refer to the lottery as the “idiot tax”. Although Radley is right about many of his points, you can’t dismiss the fact that the opposition is right too. Big gambling operations ARE predatory, and like the tobacco companies who manipulated nicotine content to increase addiction, many in our society are vulnerable to the sophisticated engineering that the big guys (government and private gambling operations) have applied.

    Of course a predatory operation that impoverishes a portion of society has negative effects on society as a whole, and reduces individual freedoms across society through economic and social drains. Prohibition doesn’t work and is objectionable on other grounds, but regulation to minimize the damage can be appropriate.

  9. #9 |  MikeZ | 

    Les didn’t really seem to be on topic here. He argued that the current Casino’s are predatory and want to bleed you dry. Perhaps this is caused because the current regulations give them a Monopoly? Certainly if you really wanted to see Vegas die, removing all gambling restrictions would probably do it. I’d guess that any fancy techniques used by big casinos to separate you from your money (free drinks, hostesses, etc) only work at the large scale and couldn’t be profitably employed by say the City of Townsville’s annual poker tournament for charity.

  10. #10 |  Gary | 

    It amazes me that anytime you read an article by someone looking to ban something, they focus exclusively on explaining why whatever they want to ban is/can be harmful but completely ignore the argument about why it’s SO harmful that we need the government to forcibly imprison people who engage in it.

    It’s like a giant logical chasm that just gets jumped over… kind of remind me of the underpants gnomes… (1) find something bad that happened, (2) ???, (3) arrest people.

    I read the article by Radley’s opponent and to be honest, I don’t really directly disagree with anything he said. Can gambling be harmful? Sure. Are there lots of predatory institutions trying to make lots of money off of gambling addicts? Absolutely. Should our own government be contributing to this by running lotteries? Hmm, good point…

    So after making a number of good points, he just skips over the giant logical chasm and fails to explain why the government needs to throw someone in jail whenever there is harm, particularly if all participants in the activity know full well what they’re getting into.

    Hey, if a casino is engaging in fraud (lying about gaming odds, for example), I’m all for having the government get involved. For FRAUD. Not for gambling.

    But if everyone knows the rules and everyone still chooses to play the game, why does our government need to go throw people in jail? Any attempt to answer that question is completely avoided… it’s just assumed that when there is harm, government must intervene.

    It’s a difference in worldview that I don’t know how to reconcile with.

  11. #11 |  Aashish | 

    Hey, just think it’s awesome that you’re in the Economist! By far my favorite magazine.

  12. #12 |  bob42 | 

    I wondered what the money trail behind Stop Predatory Gambling looked like. It’s pretty much the usual suspects, mostly religious right wing authoritarian nanny staters and police staters.

  13. #13 |  Mark R. | 

    If you want to go online and play a poker tournament your options start at $.01 (not including freerolls with cash prizes).

    If you want to go to AC/Vegas and play a poker tournament your options start at around $55, plus transportation, food, and accomidations.

    The government’s only interest in gambling is enforcing it’s monopoly. Everyone gambles, and the government is attempting to make felons out of cheap gamblers like me.

  14. #14 |  Mattocracy | 

    bobzbob,

    Are you serious? Vulnerable to “sophisticated” marketing of gambling operations? There isn’t anything sophisticated about it. Seriously, if people are so weak that they are easy to dupe out of their money via the lure of gambling then they’re too stupid to have money.

    Passive predators exist because their victims allow them too. It’s not like the casinos or state lotteries and putting guns to anyone’s heads. They aren’t being mugged. They aren’t being lied to by Bernie Madoff. People see the trap, know it’s a trap, and walk right in anyway.

  15. #15 |  Tyro | 

    Les’s reply seems very much like the same arguments used for the drug war: “gambling is bad, m’kay?”. Okay, fine. So what do we do about it? He’s a paternalistic, delusional idiot if he imagines that making every bad thing illegal will either stop it or somehow reduce the amount of bad things.

    I also notice that he’s focused on state lotteries which are actively promoted by the States and not on online poker, sports betting or house games. You want me to agree that the states shouldn’t be actively promoting gambling? Okay again, I agree. Now let’s talk about whether it should be illegal!

  16. #16 |  TDR | 

    Just my two cents:

    1. The resolution is worded badly for Radley. To “win,” he essentially has the burden to show that there should be NO regulation. Very difficult, not realistic, and, frankly, completely biased in favor of the pants-wetter on the other side.

    2. I concur with those who make the point that this guy tried to attack all gaming under the auspices of attacking government gambling. Hell, I believe in legalized gambling and I don’t think there should be government gambling either — on the same grounds that I like have mail service but don’t care if the post office goes out of business. In other words, to propose getting rid of government lotteries is not in any way contradictory to Radley’s side of the resolution.

  17. #17 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    “stopping government sponsored gambling”

    Well, frankly, I don’t disagree with that. At all. Government has no business getting involved in gambling. The only thing Government should have an interest in is making sure major gambling operators are operating fairly – if the industry won’t set up, for example (and I’ve seen…some pretty nasty behaviour by online gambling companies), an independent regulator to check their software on that basis – then it’s appropriate for one to be legislated into existence.

    (Sure, the house always wins, but the house shouldn’t CHEAT to win)

  18. #18 |  Nick T | 

    I suppose I’ll give Radley’s opponent credit for not embarrassing himself with arguments distinguishing the Lottery from other types of gambling, but at other points he really makes his own opposing argument.

    If casinos and lotteries make most of their money from 10% of gamblers, then why should the other 90% of us be proseucted, arrested, exposed to criminal elements or just generally prohibited from engaging in something that doesn’t seem to be too costly for us. If government’s complicity in gambling, and the influence of lobbyists is a major problem (which he’s right, it is) then exactly how does that support the conclusion of banning all gambling everywhere? Doesn’t it clealry shift the problem from major corporations influencing Senators to major and minor gangsters influencing cops? Why is one any better than the other?

    His lamenting the downfall of society line is also just so lame and pathetic, and it’s actually insulting to the reader. Yeah, we get it, if we could wipe out gambling we’d all go back to the better days of yesteryear.

  19. #19 |  PogueMahone | 

    My favorite from the opposition argument:

    Electronic gambling machines like slots and video poker represent the purest form of predatory gambling and, not surprisingly, are the most profitable.

    LOOK OUT!! That poker machine is headed right towards you!!! RUN!

    The argument that offering incentives to patron gambling outfits is predatory rings hollow to me. I mean, can’t that be said about any business…

    Fast food offers free refills on drinks – predatory.
    Grocery offers buy one get one free frozen pizzas – predatory.
    Services offer $10 discount for each referral – predatory.

    Nuff’ said.

    Cheers.

  20. #20 |  PogueMahone | 

    On a personal note, I can’t stand casinos.
    The annoying lights and noise. No windows. No clocks. All of the pathetic souls of the habitual gamblers. So I keep clear of them, no matter how much my friends try to coax me in.

    That’s not to say I don’t like gambling. I wager all of the time on darts, billiards, and sporting events. It’s fun. Anyhoo…

    Not that I’m in favor of the following, mind you, but if there were strict regulations on casinos to provide windows and clocks, provide on site counseling, time limits for gamblers, mandatory closing times, ect., I think that could be a reasonable compromise to those concerned about the destructive results these habitual gamblers bring on themselves.
    Like I stated, I’m not in favor of such proposals, but I could see them as reasonable regulations.
    What do you think?

    Cheers.

  21. #21 |  bobzbob | 

    ” Seriously, if people are so weak that they are easy to dupe out of their money via the lure of gambling then they’re too stupid to have money.”

    So basically any kind of fraud to cheat someone less intelligent than you out their money is A-OK with you? Mighty “christian” of you.

  22. #22 |  Kristen | 

    time limits for gamblers, mandatory closing times, ect.,

    Sounds like a fricken nightmare. Like the pubs in the UK closing at, what, 11pm? Ridiculous.

  23. #23 |  Charlie O | 

    I’m a craps player. Sometimes blackjack for a break. I have virtually no interest in slots or other electronic games. I am thrilled that we now have table games in PA. I can drive to the casino in about a half hour, spend an hour on a craps table, and go home. The state I live in gets any revenue from my activity and I have a good time. I no longer have to spend three/four hours driving to Atlantic City where I usually end up staying overnight and maybe even spending more time on the tables that I should or planned.

    I have never gambled the rent money or any other monies I couldn’t afford to lose. (I usually leave with a few bucks or break even more than I lose). This was the was when I had limited income and now when I do pretty good for myself.

    Because possibly 10% of the population can’t control themselves, I should be denied this activity? Mr. Bernal really makes no substantive argument against gambling except with regard to state run gambling (which I’m not a real fan of. I don’t play the lottery so I don’t give much thought.)

    I’m sick and tired of namby pamby moralists, religionist or whatever telling me what I can and can’t do with my money and my time when it hurts absolutely no one at all. I think every single law on the books in the United States based on any kind of religious belief should be deemed unconstitutional. That includes most laws against gambling, selling alcohol on Sundays or anything else on Sunday for that matter. Chick-fil-A is not open on Sunday. That’s by choice of the CEO of that company. I have no problem with that. I do however, strongly object to the state saying who can and cannot be open on Sunday or what you can or cannot sell on Sunday because some frigging christians don’t like it.

    Here’s my advice. If you don’t think you buy liquor on Sunday, DON’T FRIGGING BUY IT! If you don’t like gambling, DON’T FRIGGING GAMBLE. If you don’t like titty bars, DON’T GO IN and look at the titties. But damnit, leave the rest of us the fuck alone!

  24. #24 |  Mark R. | 

    @Mattocracy

    Gambler’s who lose their life savings, or a big part of it, aren’t necessarily stupid. They need help. The argument in favor of legalizing gambling across the board (as Radley’s does) should include that fact, so that those gamblers with a problem can be identified and given the option of treatment, rather than be dispossessed and have their legs broken.

    Gambling is a bamboozle for sure, but it can be innocuous. The government’s current arrangement is of course the worst of all possible worlds. Government backed predatory monopolies, government run for-profit gambling, and enforcement of those monopolies through thuggish intrusion in private affairs.

  25. #25 |  Gary | 

    “Gambling is a bamboozle for sure, but it can be innocuous.”

    That’s not true at all as a generalization.

    First of all, private card games where there’s no house take can’t even begin to be characterized as a “bamboozle”.

    Secondly, you are making a huge value judgement in assuming that just because you lose money gambling you are “losing” all value from the experience. For example, someone who plays a $2 lotto ticket every week is giving up a cup of coffee (or maybe two) every week in order to do so. Well, that cup of coffee may not be that important to them, but the idea that there’s a chance, however small, that they could win big and quit their job tomorrow might help them make it through a tough day at work. Saying that there’s no value in losing money on average for the chance to win big money is forcing your own values onto others.

    Thirdly, some people (like myself) might just find gambling fun. I love to go to Vegas every year or two. My wife and I go, she sits at the penny slots and I sit at the $5 blackjack table. We soak up the free drinks and we slowly lose a few hundred bucks over a couple of days at a variety of different casinos. We find the experience thoroughly enjoyable. We save up for it like any other vacation, and we plan on spending all of the money we saved up. Because we plan on losing all of our money, we normally end up losing much less than we planned.

    You are defining the value of gambling purely based on the dollar value of what you win or lose and not accounting for any non monetary value gained from the experience.

    How about going to see a movie in a theater? I’m spending money, experiencing something, and then walking away (a) with less money, (b) and nothing physical to show for it. Was that valueless?

    Should we not be allowed to spend money for an experience?

  26. #26 |  ClassAction | 

    #21

    Where’s the fraud? Where’s the cheating? Are you suggesting that slot machines are, per se, fraudulent? When, in your previous post, you refer to “predatory operations.” What exactly do you mean? Organizations “prey” on consumer desires all the time. McDonalds preys on consumer desire for quick food. Strip clubs prey on consumer desire for cheap titillation. What, exactly, are the predatory practices that you think need to be banned or regulated?

  27. #27 |  Marty | 

    #8 | bobzbob-

    ‘Prohibition doesn’t work and is objectionable on other grounds, but regulation to minimize the damage can be appropriate.’

    usually, the established industry draws up the ‘appropriate regulations’ with govt approval. continuing with your tobacco company analogy, new (safer) tobacco products are severely restricted based on phillip morris throwing the rest of the industry under the bus to protect their market share with ‘regulations’. competition, instead of ‘gambling licenses’ would weed out many of the ‘predatory’ gambling operations, instead of protecting the predators by establishing monopolies.

  28. #28 |  Marty | 

    ‘So basically any kind of fraud to cheat someone less intelligent than you out their money is A-OK with you? Mighty “christian” of you’

    this is just ripe with irony…

  29. #29 |  MikeZ | 

    “So basically any kind of fraud to cheat someone less intelligent than you out their money is A-OK with you? Mighty “christian” of you.”

    Isn’t fraud already covered by a whole separate set of criminal and civil penalties? As long as the game is played by the rules I don’t see how it is fraud/cheating.

  30. #30 |  celticdragonchick | 

    When you mentioned the debate in yesterday’s post I immediately thought of the SWAT raid in Virginia from a few years ago.

    Me too.

  31. #31 |  Marty | 

    the comments on the debate are depressing. many of them have a death-grip on this ‘addiction’ bullshit. one guy cites ‘externalities’ that ‘harm society’ and uses a bookkeeper embezzling money from an auto dealer to gamble, causing the dealership to go out of business… what are the odds of that?

  32. #32 |  Kristen | 

    You are defining the value of gambling purely based on the dollar value of what you win or lose and not accounting for any non monetary value gained from the experience.

    This. It’s an entertainment experience. As such it costs money, just like going to the movie theater (which I hate with a passion and never do). If you don’t find it appealing, then don’t go in a casino.

    Poker and blackjack have been a nice bonding experience for me and my Pa.

  33. #33 |  Chris in AL | 

    Radley, you did a fine job, and clearly won.

    I also felt that Les’ statistics seemed suspicious. However, I felt that Les made many good arguments FOR legal, regulated gambling. The predatory practices of casinos seem to be his biggest issue. Well, if any other business made it a practice to get you liquored up for free to reduce your decision making abilities (a car dealership offering free body shots before you negotiate for example) many people would take notice of that. And I realize you are not obligated to take the free drinks just because they are offered, but the intent is clearly to impair the customer. I am not saying these and other ‘predatory’ practices should be banned, but they are pretty hard to defend and easy to attack, as Les did. He points out that the casual player and at-home poker nights are not the problem that needs addressed.

    Yet those are exactly the people being targeted, raided and shot over gambling. Any law that, when applied, get exactly the wrong people and do not touch the problem intended to be solved by the law are bad laws. Defending them because they are alleged to address the issue despite the fact that they fail miserably is a joke.

    Les pointed out all the harm gambling can cause, but he failed to prove that denial of personal liberty in the matter is a justifiable solution.

  34. #34 |  JS | 

    primus sucks!

  35. #35 |  Rhayader | 

    This whole concept of a “predatory” business model is shaky at best. Like MikeZ #29 said, there are laws against actual fraudulent behavior.

    It’s a charge leveled often, with drug dealers being the typical target. Oh, they sell poison to our community. Well you know what? Your community wants it, or else the dude wouldn’t exist. Easy as that. That’s called “consensual,” not “predatory.”

  36. #36 |  Dakota | 

    If free booze is a predatory practice, I always want to be the prey!

  37. #37 |  JS | 

    Rhayadar “This whole concept of a “predatory” business model is shaky at best. Like MikeZ #29 said, there are laws against actual fraudulent behavior.

    It’s a charge leveled often, with drug dealers being the typical target. Oh, they sell poison to our community. Well you know what? Your community wants it, or else the dude wouldn’t exist. Easy as that. That’s called “consensual,” not “predatory.”

    That’s an awesome post Rhayadar!

  38. #38 |  qwints | 

    It looks like everyone agrees state run lotteries are a bad idea, and that using police state tactics to attack people engaged in a consensual activity is wrong. (No surprises there) Where I think there is room for disagreement is over regulation of gambling businesses.I read the debate as being over the existence of the Nevada Gaming Commission rather than prohibition.

  39. #39 |  Robert | 

    @ #25 “First of all, private card games where there’s no house take can’t even begin to be characterized as a “bamboozle”.”

    Unless you happen to get into one that has 2 or more players co-operating with each other, or any of a number of other ways to cheat.

  40. #40 |  orogeny | 

    “This house believes there should be no legal restrictions on gambling. ”

    How is it possible to vote any way but “NO” on a resolution worded this poorly? There has to be some kind of regulation of legal gambling…slots have to be inspected, dice and cards checked, etc. I’m in favor of legalizing gambling, but I couldn’t vote for the resolution.

  41. #41 |  Rhayader | 

    @JS #37: Hah thanks dude.

    @orogeny: Being a little to literal, aren’t we? I think the general idea is pretty clear. Besides, if we wanted to argue semantics, we could debate whether or not “regulation of legal gambling” is the same thing as a “legal restriction on gambling.”

  42. #42 |  Gary | 

    “@ #25 “First of all, private card games where there’s no house take can’t even begin to be characterized as a “bamboozle”.”

    Unless you happen to get into one that has 2 or more players co-operating with each other, or any of a number of other ways to cheat.”

    We have an existing defense against things like that… it’s called fraud and it’s got nothing to do with gambling. It’s also only enforceable if the basic activity is legal to begin with.

    If I go buy a product that turns out to be completely different than it was advertised to be, I take the dealer to small claims court.

    If I play in a poker game and get cheated, I can sue the… oh no wait, I can’t, because poker is illegal and so I have no legal way to pursue cheating and fraud.

    Hmm, if poker was legal and a gambling establishment was found to be cheating me, I would be able to take them to court in the same way I could for any other business that is acting fraudulently.

  43. #43 |  orogeny | 

    Rhayader

    Maybe I spent too much time on the debating team, but the wording of a resolution was always a critical point. In this case, particularly since one of the debaters is a Libertarian (not dissing Libs, just pointing out that there all all kinds), I would think that it would be important to specifically define what a vote for the resolution actually means. “no legal restrictions” seems pretty clear to me.

  44. #44 |  Sallie | 

    My dad ran my hometown casino for a while when I was a kid, and even now he says that the government is the biggest gambling addict of all. Once they get their hands on that revenue, it’s all over…

  45. #45 |  BSK | 

    I learned craps by standing at a table for an hour and asking the dealers/croupier how the game worked. They told me the exact odds on each bet, the payouts, and what bets were sound bets and what bets were fool’s bets. Obviously, EVERY bet is a loser, but some are much bigger losers than others. They were open and honest about it and helped me become a better player. Why? Because they knew if they scammed me, or if I was talked into making the fool’s bets and lots all my money in 20 minutes, I would cease to be interested, in either gambling, the specific game, or that casino. So they treated me well and I knew that I had sole control over moving my odds towards or away from standard house odds. I ended up losing a lot more than I planned. But that was my fault. And I had to own that.

  46. #46 |  bobzbob | 

    “Where’s the fraud? Where’s the cheating? Are you suggesting that slot machines are, per se, fraudulent? When, in your previous post, you refer to “predatory operations.” What exactly do you mean?”

    Electronic slots, for example, are programmed to pay out in patterns that manipulate the brain’s chemical “reward” system, in particular dopamine levels. People with low dopamine levels are particularily prone to gambling addictions. It is cheating, but in a more subtle and legal, fashion.

  47. #47 |  bobzbob | 

    “usually, the established industry draws up the ‘appropriate regulations’ with govt approval.”

    Which is why we have to end the influence of industry on government. I propose two constitutional amendments: one states that free speech rights are granted only to the people and not extended to artificial legal entities, and the second that states that money is not the equivalent of speech.

  48. #48 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ bobzbob,

    I’m not a christian. And this statement…

    “So basically any kind of fraud to cheat someone less intelligent than you out their money is A-OK with you?”

    Gambling isn’t fraud, not even remotely. No one is being cheated. To be cheated means someone lied to you. Everyone knows (or should know) what gambling is. It’s complete lie to say that people don’t know what gambling is all about.

    It’s not about intelligence, it’s about common sense. Everyone has it. It’s hard to feel sympathy for people who don’t use the tools at their disposal. It makes me incompassionate, and I’m ok with that. Making excuses and not holding people accountable for their own mistakes doesn’t give you the moral high ground.

  49. #49 |  Marty | 

    I thought the govt was restricted from impinging upon the freedom of speech, not that ‘…free speech rights are granted …’

  50. #50 |  Rhayader | 

    @orogeny: Yeah I don’t really disagree; I just don’t find much value in semantic discussions. No hard feelings though. Also, to directly contradict my professed disdain for nitpicking, I’ll mention that Radley often takes care to point out that he’s a “small-l libertarian”.

    Electronic slots, for example, are programmed to pay out in patterns that manipulate the brain’s chemical “reward” system, in particular dopamine levels. People with low dopamine levels are particularily prone to gambling addictions. It is cheating, but in a more subtle and legal, fashion.

    And comedies make people laugh, and horror movies scare people. That’s straight-up tinkering with brain chemistry, including dopamine levels. Downright creepy, I tells ya.

  51. #51 |  Cato Fellow Defends Your Right to Gamble | Think Tank West | 

    [...] was leading by a landslide this morning, but there has been a curious development. Reports Radley: Interesting. Support from my side went from 85% to 46% in a little over three [...]

  52. #52 |  Mattocracy | 

    @ 50,

    Exactly. All entertainment is about raising dopamine levels. If you can stop watching Everyone Loves Raymond, you can walk away from the slot machine.

  53. #53 |  Bob | 

    #40 orogeny:

    “This house believes there should be no legal restrictions on gambling. ”

    How is it possible to vote any way but “NO” on a resolution worded this poorly? There has to be some kind of regulation of legal gambling…slots have to be inspected, dice and cards checked, etc. I’m in favor of legalizing gambling, but I couldn’t vote for the resolution.

    The debate is on restriction, not regulation.

    It’s like buying gasoline. No one is stopping a gas station from selling all available forms of gas, but it better be from a certified gas pump. The gas pump is regulated to prevent fraud, the station is not restricted in what fuels it can sell (As far as I know, anyway) For example, you can still get leaded fuel, but your local station isn’t going to sell it because so few people want it. (I agree that that’s a strained metaphor)

    As such, the resolution can be accepted and the mechanics of the gambling can still be subjected to regulations. It’s like saying “Make up any gambling games you like, gamble on anything you like, but each game or system must be overviewed by the Gaming Commission to ensure that it’s free from fraud or misrepresentation to ensure an honest, transparent wager”

    For example: Let’s say the world worked the way the resolution proposes and you want to run a card game playing “Stud Poker” at your house on Thursday nights. For the sake of argument, let’s assume “Stud Poker” is clearly defined in advance and the Gaming Commission even publishes a rule book.

    You then cannot be arrested for playing Stud Poker even if you are making giant profits so long as it’s an honest game and transparent as per the issued regulations.

    Games that are patently abusive or unfair, like Ponzi Schemes, would stay illegal. Likewise, games that are constructed in suck a way as to make the calculation of odds impossible would likewise not be approved.

    Now, it’s possible that the writers of the resolution had the idea that there should be no restrictions OR regulations. That would be a different story, as it would be nearly impossible to find an honest game. For example: In Blackjack, the 10 value cards favor the player. All you have to do to rig the game is remove some of them from the deck and not allow the player to inspect the deck.

  54. #54 |  Marty | 

    reading this post, I feel oddly elated… it makes me want more… or to put a quarter in a slot machine.

  55. #55 |  Trepanated | 

    @orogeny:”There has to be some kind of regulation of legal gambling…slots have to be inspected, dice and cards checked, etc.”

    It’s dismaying to hear that you apparently believe that checks for fairness can only be performed by a government entity. Go to any online poker site, and you will find them touting their certifications for the fairness of their RNGs by private organizations. Such organizations would exist for brick and mortar casinos too, if not for the fact that the government insists on monopolizing that service.

    Casinos that are interested in a sustainable business model, which is most of them, will care very much about their reputation for fairness. There is a demand for certification of this type. This does not mean it has to be done by the government. To give an example from another field, I personally put a lot more weight behind what J.D. Power or Consumer Reports have to say about car safety than what the Department of Transportation does. The former 2 have a possibility of going out of business if they are consistently wrong, while the latter does not.

  56. #56 |  SJE | 

    I’m addicted to reading and commenting on Radley’s blog. (Oooooh, dopamine rush). Should it be illegal?

  57. #57 |  xenia onatopp | 

    Radley won hands down, and not just because his opponent was apparently in a different debate.

    The thing that makes my brain hurt is the argument that legalized gambling makes gambling addicts of folks who might otherwise never place a bet. Hello? I mean, leaving aside the whole issue of repackaging voluntary behavior as involuntary pathology, on what planet are they living that people who want to gamble are stopped from doing so because it’s illegal? Newsflash! Pretty much anyone who is disposed to doing so is already gambling. For fuck’s sake, how can you make a valid argument when you are deliberately and disingenuously denying reality?

  58. #58 |  David | 

    I see a huge problem with the resolution: “there should be no legal restrictions on gambling” – it is too absolute, inviting no exception.

    I think – for instance – that restrictions against minors (under 18, I disagree with under 21 restrictions) gambling in casinos or purchasing lottery tickets should be in place (note I said restrictions – I’d probably be open to allowing gambling with parental supervision at e.g. 16+?). Restrictions against people who have committed gambling-related crimes may be appropriate as probaton or parole conditions (or bail conditions, for those accused). Zoning and parking issues might justify restrictions against someone turning his or her house into a 24/7 casino. And so on.

    Therefore, despite agreeing that gambling should generally be permissible, much more so than it is now, and generally agreeing with almost everything on hear or Reason about poker and raids and so forth, I cannot agree with the resolution because it is too absolute.

  59. #59 |  Rhayader | 

    @David #56: Yeah there’s been a bit of a back-and-forth on that — post 40 posed the question, and Bob had a thorough reply in #52.

  60. #60 |  J.S. | 

    Don’t get me started on state lotteries/video poker machines, the hypocrisy angers me to no end. Online gaming bad. Indian casinos/vegas/state lotto etc. good.

    The Oregon state gov makes a lot of cash from both of those venues (and often shoots themselves in the foot by not maximizing income). The lottery commercials are galling lately. They had some silly campaign for a new game called Cleopatra or something. Cleo walks into a bar with 2 gal pals and seduces some dude to “play her”. All the lotto/scratch it game commercials have the tag line “the lottery is for entertainment purposes only, not for investment opportunity”. But hey, its for the schools! They toss in another ad imploring players to not spend all their time gambling in front of their machines. How civic minded of them.

    Oregon is about broke.The state gambled with gov. employee PERS funds in the stock market… of course the tax payers should have to make up for the market crashing. Go buy some lotto tickets! Powerball is at 89million! (25 million after tax/instant payout)

    Soda pop is bad. Plastic bags are bad. But play powerball for a chance to win a big burger in a field carried by hot chicks. (remember, sexism is wrong folks unless it sells lotto tickets!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4xrifp8rR0

  61. #61 |  Jozef | 

    I find it interesting how the opponent vilifies casinos. From a research I did two years ago, casinos have a gross margin of 8.5%, while government lotteries have a gross margin of 50%. In 2007, governments collected $29.8 billion in profits and taxes from government lotteries, but only $5.2 billion from casinos and $1.44 billion from racetrack operations. So if anyone has vested interest in gambling, it’s primarily the federal, state and local governments. And they are acting much more cutthroat than casinos ever cut – government lotteries are in fact a regressive tax, with much worse odds than casino games.

  62. #62 |  Cyto | 

    Bobzbob: Electronic slots, for example, are programmed to pay out in patterns that manipulate the brain’s chemical “reward” system

    From my freshman psychology class oh so many years ago: Random? Random, low probability payout is the most addictive. That’s hardly “programmed to manipulate the brain” any more than a pair of dice is programmed to manipulate the brain.

  63. #63 |  Andrew S. | 

    I’ll give one thing to Radley’s opponent: At least he’s consistent. Most people I talk to who are against internet gambling have no issues with state-sponsored horse racing or lotteries.

    Also, we should have a new policy that every comment here start with “Dear Sir,”. Class this place up a bit!

  64. #64 |  Rhayader | 

    Dear Sir –

    I am truly sorry about that whole thing with your wife.

    Respectfully yours,
    Rhayader

  65. #65 |  Zargon | 

    Frankly, focusing on the poll results is silly. I’d be shocked if even 2% of those voting in the poll are people who watched the debate and changed their mind. Most people just ignore everything that doesn’t confirm their world-view.

    So it’s pretty clear the poll got linked to a large group of people who disagree with you. Who cares? It kind seems like a positive to me, because maybe a few of them will be bothered to actually watch the debate, and maybe 1 or 2 of them might actually engage their cerebral cortex and think about what it means to make gambling illegal and the consequences thereof.

  66. #66 |  Zargon | 

    #62
    From my freshman psychology class oh so many years ago: Random? Random, low probability payout is the most addictive.

    I knew about the experiment with the lever-pushing mice that showed this before, but for some reason, upon reading this, I just applied it to the MMOs I no longer play. I used to think it was really annoying that they made end-game rewards drop by ridiculously low random chance (all MMOs I know of do this). I figured if they wanted people to play longer, they ought to just make it so you needed to kill, say, 100 bosses and you’d get it rather than having it drop from the boss at 1% and have some people frustrated to the point of tears when they go 0/1000 on it, while the next guy really doesn’t care about the item but goes 1/1 on it.

    But now it’s all too obvious. MMO devs clearly read about the mice who did nothing but hit the lever when given rewards randomly for doing so, applied it to their games, and ended up rather successful for doing so.

  67. #67 |  Nick T. | 

    bobzbob,

    Can you explain how your proposed Constituional Amendment about giving only free speech rights to people would affect record companies and music studios and whether the government could regulate and censor their products willy nilly since there would be no recourse or free speech for those non-people entities?

    Are you aware of whether or not any SC Justices concluded that corporations were not protected by free speech in the Citizens United case? Are you awre of whether or not the government (or anyone ever for that matter) argued that free speech did not apply to the corporation in that case?

    Do you honesty believe that, denied of free speech protection, our amazing Congress members would suddenly pass laws forbidding campaign donations of all sorts, and that corporate influence on politics would suddenly dissappear?

    Are you in favor of restricting other parts of the Bill of Rights to only people? Should the FBI be allowed to raid the ACLU’s offices and grab whatever papers they want because the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply to non people? (After all the very language of the 4th Am. indicates it only applies to people.)

    Lastly, did you really think those Amendment proposals through? Not really huh?

  68. #68 |  Kevin | 

    Gary’s rad.

  69. #69 |  Caby | 

    Wow… can’t believe your numbers slid like that… Another example of why we have a representative form of government… when you have one-man-one-vote, there’s no accounting for what crazy thing the public might vote for… Baptist convention… LOL, probably just the general public…

  70. #70 |  Robert | 

    @ #42 Gary,

    “If I play in a poker game and get cheated, I can sue the… oh no wait, I can’t, because poker is illegal and so I have no legal way to pursue cheating and fraud.

    Hmm, if poker was legal and a gambling establishment was found to be cheating me, I would be able to take them to court in the same way I could for any other business that is acting fraudulently.”

    Then that’s not a private game with no “house” taking a cut then is it? If someone cheated you in a private game, even if poker was 100% legal, exactly how would you go about sueing them and expect to win? I agree that we should be able to go play poker at a lightly regulated business. California manages to do it and has card houses all over the place. I’d love to be able to go play real poker (not video based poker where the cards are dealt by a computer) somewhere that’s not a 10 hour drive away from me.

  71. #71 |  Gary | 

    @ #69,

    You’re right that you’d have a very hard time winning a lawsuit against a private poker game even if gambling were legal. Technically you have legal recourse, but I imagine it would be near impossible to actually prove you were cheated. So I stand corrected for implying that legalizing gambling would add legal recourse to this specific situation.

    I do take issue with it being characterized as a bamboozle, however. You can find people who cheat at almost any activity in life, but that doesn’t make the activity itself fraudulent. Legalized gambling at least allows the choice between (a) playing in a private game and risk getting cheated, or (b) pay a house cut at a gaming hall and have protection.

    However, based on what you said, it sounds like we agree on that anyway.

  72. #72 |  Anonymous | 

    I’m on many odd mailing lists-

    Good morning,

    I need you to please vote today in The Economist’s poll
    on this statement:
    “Government should have no restrictions on gambling.” The Economist is
    holding a debate on the issue and gambling interests are disproportionately
    skewing the results. Below is our opening statement in the debate. It is an
    important issue in an important forum and I strongly urge you to make your
    view heard. A vote to stop predatory gambling is a No vote.

    Can you please vote right now?
    http://www.economist.com/debate/overview/178/Gambling

    Also, please forward this request to your network and urge them to vote.

    If you support our work, please consider making a tax-deductible
    contribution here.
    *snip*

    Thank you.

    Best,

    Les Bernal

  73. #73 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Bobzbob wrote:

    Of course a predatory operation that impoverishes a portion of society has negative effects on society as a whole, and reduces individual freedoms across society through economic and social drains.

    Well said, but what does Congress have to do with this discussion!

    But seriously…

    I still believe in “buyer beware”. This does not mean all manner of already-illegal activity should go unpunished. We already have defined (in some cases “clearly defined”) business practices for gambling. In essence, gambling operations have learned that they don’t need to adopt predatory practices to ensure full seats at blackjack tables. In fact, the most predatory gambling practices I’ve seen have been for state run lotteries.

    We also have the issue of the role of government. In this case, does the government suppress one activity (gambling) to better enable something else (financial responsibility)? I’d say no. I’d rather have government in the job of protecting individual freedom first and enable people to “enjoy the benefits and suffer the consequences” of their personal choices.

    If you say “We’ll have to support thousands of broke families due to gambling”, then that is a problem with socialism and not gambling.

  74. #74 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    If gambling were legal, why on Earth would you ever go to a private poker game where there is a chance of cheating?

    Instead, you can come to Boyd’s House of Poker where we are fully licensed by the private gambling inspection professionals at Price-Coopers Waterhouse.

    Whenever a discussion breaks out on legalizing something, it is important to remember that the rest of the capitalist society doesn’t just stand still. They rush in to provide goods and services to meet quickly developing demand. Just don’t leave licensing and inspections up to the government.

  75. #75 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Just thought about something: if gambling and drugs ever became legal, what would our massive police state do? The union wouldn’t allow a decrease in numbers, so they’d most likely bother us in a dozen different ways.

    No, the cops wouldn’t be busy with crimes from legal drugs and gambling.

  76. #76 |  BSK | 

    Wow. I just went over to read the rebuttals and any hope that your opponent had of me supporting him (which was minimal to begin with) went out the window with his little anecdote about the bank robber.

    His contention that only an evil as horrible as gambling could turn this little old lady into a bank robber is abhorrent. He seems to be resting on the notion that short, middle-aged women in heavy coats and scarves are the bastions of virtue and any bad deed they commit must be the result of corruption by an unspeakable evil. Seriously? What if the person in question was a burly, young guy in a tank top? Or a construction work? Or a tall woman in hot pants? This woman clearly had issues outside of gambling. If she didn’t piss her money away at the tables she would have found another vice to become addicted to and would throw her money at that. He wants to act as if gambling corrupts otherwise good people and that good people are defined as short, middle-aged women in winter clothes. Please.

    Yes, gambling is a potential outlet for people with addictive personalities. Yes, some people can do great harm to themselves through excessive gambling. But these people have issues long before they step into a casino. Blaming gambling and excusing the individual is ridiculous. Especially if that excuse is predicated upon the individual’s age, or gender, or height, or choice of clothing.

  77. #77 |  markm | 

    Bobzbob: So you don’t think the New York Tmes, Inc., should have freedom of speed?

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