With the invention of The Lotto, the government become a bookie. The state is now a purveyor of legalized gambling. Proponents tie the organization to positive benefits like funding schools and other governmental activities like parks.
But where does that money come from? People who gamble, methinks.
Governments have turned gambling into, what I like to call, “unfair taxation of the stupid.”
When I grew up, gambling was something that was far away. If you wanted to gamble you had to travel to places like Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Monte Carlo, etc.
Now, in my hometown, the state has lottery machines in every bar and a lot of restaurants. If I wish to gamble I merely need to walk a single block in any direction.
Sunday morning I went out for breakfast. As we walked up to the restaurant at 9:00 a.m. a drunk dude had stumbled out of the lounge for a smoke, apparently to whet our palates before our meal. At least he has gambling devices in there for his “entertainment,” I thought.
I especially love the commercials run by the state to promote their lottery. (So we know not all of the proceeds go to the land of goodness. A lot of dollars are spent on advertising. And, no doubt, admin.) After hawking their product they add, as an afterthought, “For entertainment purposes only. Please gamble responsibly.”
The state spends a lot of money combating the problem of gambling addiction. I know I’m not the only one who finds it ironic that the state drinks from both ends of that well. Mixed messages much? “Gambling is bad but do buy our lotto tickets.” And our society sees this as a viable solution for any sort of problem? Wow. Inconceivable.
To borrow and modify a political phrase: A society can’t gamble its way to prosperity.
When Native Americans began to benefit from gambling and casino games, I didn’t object. They are more than entitled. And if people want to exercise their right to hand over their wallets, so be it. I certainly won’t object. Casinos on Native American lands are also an imperfect solution, and there are problems with that solution, but I can live with them in this one particular case.
Now a business venture wants to modify the law (through the initiative process) to gain the right to run a casino as a commercial enterprise. They are not Native Americans. They simply seek the right to run a casino to make a profit. They want to bring Vegas to our desert. And they have been running a blitzkrieg advertising campaign to convince the voters to give them permission.
Their ads claim their casino will create “2,000 permanent jobs with health care” and wouldn’t cost the taxpayers a penny. They also claim they will provide $100 million a year for schools. (Ah. That old ploy worked for the state, so why not us?)
This made me curious. How much money would the good people of this state have to experience in gambling losses in their casino to pay for those jobs?
I used $50k as an estimate for each full-time employee. That’s probably a low estimate. And it doesn’t include administration costs. For 2,000 such employees the cost of compensation to the casino would be $100 million per year.
I used 20 percent for an estimate of payroll costs as compared to overall revenue. In other words, the casino would have to bring in $500 million per year to justify spending 20 percent (or $100 million) on employee payroll costs.
They want $500 million from the people of this state to support their business model while claiming that it won’t cost “taxpayers a penny.” How quaint.
No doubt these estimates are tinker toy simplistic and underestimate the real picture. But let’s just say they are accurate enough to ask this question: How long would you give someone $1 for 20 cents in return?
Simple math exposes these ambitious entrepreneurs as garden variety assholes. It’s bad math. It’s a bad deal.