Gambling Debate, Part II

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Our rebuttals have been posted in my gambling debate for the Economist.

Go vote! I’m down by six percentage points right now.

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28 Responses to “Gambling Debate, Part II”

  1. #1 |  J sub D | 

    Even though I had to register (I hate that), you got my vote Radley.

  2. #2 |  pegr | 

    Um, is it a fair fight if Radley unleashes his minions to skew the vote?

    I voted in favor of Radley’s argument, BTW.

  3. #3 |  Andrew S. | 

    To be fair, pegr, I figure his opponent also has unleashed his minions.

    Also, why does he refer to “Les Balko” in one of his arguments? Is he getting your name wrong? Or does he think you’re French?

  4. #4 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    Les Bernal’s introductory argument borrows a bit of the right’s moral rectitude and the left’s paternalism, and ends with an odd attempt to tie his own position to patriotism and civic virtue.

    I agree, Radley. And, this immediately turns me off of Les’s argument. I have a strong cognitive bias against arguments leaning heavily on patriotism, civic virtue/duty, and state paternalism…but fighting thru that I still think he loses the debate on logic.

  5. #5 |  Gary | 

    I’m sort of depressed that the vote is even close. I can only hope that it’s due to the poor wording of the assertion, which as others have pointed out forces the logical person to vote no if you believe in even ONE restriction to gambling, for example, that children under 18 should be prohibited from gambling venues.

  6. #6 |  . | 

    Maybe you could use parts of a couple of these arguments to counter Bernal’s dubious assertion that addicts are robbed of free will.

    And maybe this one to show that prohibition is not an effective answer to the problems of addiction.

  7. #7 |  Legate Damar | 

    He never addresses your strongest argument from the opening, which is that despite what he says in the opening, regular non-addicted people are having their lives ruined over this due to legal enforment. If those people are just acceptable casualties to protect the degenerates from themselves, then Les should in fact be arguing for the illegality of almost everything

  8. #8 |  Wesley | 

    Gary is right; it is quite depressing that the vote is even close. Radley cites studies, and facts, whereas Les references only vague platitudes about how hurt the common man is and will be (which Radley flatly rebutted with actual studies). How can anyone actually fall for that garbage?

  9. #9 |  Wesley | 

    Oh, wait, I forgot the best part: Les’s chief rebuttal is a single anecdote. I would say that the plural of “anecdote” is not “data,” but Les doesn’t even reach the plural part.

  10. #10 |  Jozef | 

    Two things:

    1. I think Radley wanted to say “Imperial Japan”, not “Imperialist Japan”. “Imperialist” is something you say about the US, not WW2 Japan…

    2. I’m disappointed that the discussion moved from gambling to mostly casinos. I thought Radley started really well by discussing private betting in his opening statement; I would’ve loved to see this line of thought being developed further and have his opponent struggle with a reply.

  11. #11 |  Kevin | 


    I imagine that the number of groups motivated to eliminate gambling is far larger(and the groups are more vocal) than those who agree with Radley. I also suspect they have no problem whatsoever unleashing their own emotionally charged, cause-loving minions to skew the vote (-;

  12. #12 |  SJE | 

    Josef: Imperial Japan was “imperialist” as shown by its expansion and annexation of large sections of Asia, and the treatment of the subservient populations.

  13. #13 |  Nick T | 

    What #9 said. If we want to undercut casinos and their unending, and corrupting support from the government, then we should make sure that poker games, and office pools are completely legal. Give people more open avenues in which to bet, and satisfy their desires, so that otherwise healthy and not-likely-to-get-addicted types don’t venture off to casinos and get “preyed” on by those evil mind-controller types.

    BTW, I’m going to Foxwoods tomorrow and I’m gonna drop an extra $40 on craps just as a little jab at Mr. bernal and his ilk.

    (If I never comment on here again, it’s because I’ll have succumb to the lights and manipulations and will be living in the gutter)

  14. #14 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    A few years ago, I read a white paper on a particular Vegas casino’s revenue (and profits). Sure, different games have different profit margins. But, the number of revenue streams was impressive: theater shows, food (not just the buffets), drinks, tours, rooms, etc. Management worried mostly about keeping (union) labor efficient, service levels high, and customer retention/safety. Yes, the security issues around large sums of money existed.

    This gambling debate isn’t about casinos being good/bad, but knowing that gambling is NOT just gambling for millions of people is important to the real world discussion. It is entertainment with millions of people (win or lose) leaving feeling entertained.

    To Legate’s comment, it is still the same old argument of outlawing steak because babies don’t have teeth.

    Casinos tend to teach you what people really like. Based on going to casinos, people like entertainment, drinking, and boobs. Nothing wrong there.

  15. #15 |  Bob | 

    How is this a debate? Radley is calling for liberty while the other guy is running around screaming about one person that robs banks.

    The issue of gambling aside, this is my observation on activities that, when freely allowed (Like gambling, drinking, sex, creative lawnmowing) cause a statistical likelihood of abuse:

    Abuse of these freedoms through addictive or obsessive behavior is a symptom of a greater problem, not a problem in the freedom itself. Ignoring the greater problem and focusing on the system is like prescribing pain medication for a broken leg instead of fixing the leg.

    My hypothesis is that human beings are flexible, they are programmed by their interactions with their environment. But they are not locked in by that environment like animals are, they have an illusion of free will that allows a small amount of self direction in that programming. When they are happy, or at least largely so, they tend to focus that programming towards their greater good, they have ‘hope’. If their environment is shittastic, they tend to focus that programming destructively, they have ‘despair’.

    In a larger social sense, people must be allowed to gravitate towards ‘hope’ or ‘despair’ by being as free as possible to make their own choices.

    I submit that a region that gravitates towards ‘despair’ will do so in all things, and will do so not because of the liberties involved, but rather the environment that exists. There is something wrong with the social environment in that region, something toxic that is producing despair as a symptom in response to freedom.

    The two solutions to that decay are replacing the environment with totalitarian control or fixing the toxic aspects of the environment.

    Totalitarian control is near impossible. You need a dictator with absolute control for that. Historically, it’s worked in the short term… violators are thrown into the volcano, shot, gassed, or sent to Gulag. (Depending on the society)

    The real solution is to focus on why the region is toxic to the influx of freedom, or why available choices result in the accumulation of ‘despair’ instead of ‘hope’. An example would be “There are no jobs!” the solution would be “Work on attracting jobs!” instead of focusing on suppression of freedoms to eliminate the symptom.

  16. #16 |  Alex | 

    “Because the social costs associated with for-profit gambling are so significant, as shown by the New Hampshire study,”

    This is weak. He needs to do a lot more than vaguely cite that study about one casino to show that legalized private “for-profit gambling among individuals” is somehow untenably dangerous/costly.

  17. #17 |  TDR | 

    I deliberately avoided voting in the primaries on Tuesday. I took the time to vote for Balko today. Both actions were intentional, and I defy anyone to say that my priorities are wrong. :)

  18. #18 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    You summed it up correctly. How to know you’ve lost a debate: you cite one extreme example of a bank robber with a gambling problem.

    Did I tell you about the bald guy who broke into my car? Well, Radley and Les won’t like the logical proposal I have to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

    Then, I’ll prove why God doesn’t exist because some priests rape kids.

  19. #19 |  Marty | 

    the fucking mormons are weighing in… no gay marriage, fruity drinks, or gambling… if you’d stick to reinterpreting hieroglyphics, calling minorities ‘mud people’, and wearing funny underwear, they’d support your cause.

    check out the support this clown gets and you’ll see the makings of a real active group… remember gay marriage in California and who spearheaded that?

  20. #20 |  IrishMike | 

    Did anyone follow the link to the “study” that shows that associated revenue from one casino will be outweighed by the “social cost.” It is about as scientific as would be a study about “America’s Opinion of Barack Obama” if only KKK members were polled.

  21. #21 |  chucklyfun | 

    Aren’t there studies that removing prohibition actually reduces the problem of addiction, rather than increasing it? If we are concerned about gambling addiction, let them get it out with more casual gambling, rather than high stakes environments or even worse, the black market.

  22. #22 |  MattJ | 

    In keeping with libertarian tradition, I will be content that you’ve won the argument, and unconcerned that you’re going to lose the vote.

  23. #23 |  lunchstealer | 

    “By definition, someone who is an addict or someone who is in deep financial debt is not free.”

    The fuck? What kind of dictionary is this guy using?

  24. #24 |  Dakota | 

    I think poor Les thinks that his story about the unarmed bank robber is somehow a “rebuttal” to the Sal Culosi story.

    I almost feel bad for Bernal, Radley just had a battle of wits with an unarmed man.

  25. #25 |  Andrew S. | 

    #24 | Dakota | July 23rd, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I think poor Les thinks that his story about the unarmed bank robber is somehow a “rebuttal” to the Sal Culosi story.

    It’s unspoken, and I don’t want to put words like this in his mouth, but my suspicion is that Bernal thinks that Culosi “deserved it” for promoting gambling.

  26. #26 |  TDR | 

    @#22 — Bad, Matt! Bad! I NEED this win! I cannot stand having one more “moral victory” notched up without a REAL victory behind it!!

  27. #27 |  M | 

    I still think the answer to gambling addiction is better math instruction. I’m ok with it taking a few generations to solve.

  28. #28 |  JThompson | 

    I suppose I should add the disclaimer most people do before they mention legalization of drugs: I have not and never will gamble. Never so much as a quarter wagered in a bulldozer pushing machine thingy. I think it’s silly and as soon as I even think of wagering the money, I think of a hundred better things to do with it.

    Never was a fan of moral crusades in general, and the one against gambling is particularly obnoxious. I knew my vote was going to Radley before I even read the arguments.

    If we follow his “Bank Robber” argument to the illogical end, we’re not just going to be outlawing gambling. We’ll also be outlawing everything from drugs and alcohol to capitalism itself. Most bank robbers are just go out and buy crap. You don’t design or change a system based entirely on outliers.