Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Gamble or Not to Gamble? That is the Question.
I was working on another entry regarding this issue but just couldn't get my thoughts together on it. I stepped back to think about it and maybe I can get my point across on it this time.
I am not a gambler. I have been to a casino five times in my life. Twice on a casino cruise off the coast of Georgia; once in Montgomery County at the Poarch Creek Indian casino; once in Las Vegas; and once in New Orleans. I got better things to do with my money than throw them into a machine, but I wanted to say that I tried it once. The times I won, which is twice, I walked away with more than I put in and the three times I lost, I lost a total of $60 - total.
The legality of "electronic bingo" is the debate here in Alabama. Several destination points here in the state have legalized charity bingo but some of these places have thrown in the "electronic" version into it which in my opinion is a slot machine. No matter how much you argue it - it looks and acts like a slot machine. Do I really care? NO! It doesn't affect me directly so I really don't care.
There are bills going through the State Legislature to allow this type of gambling in the state and possibly higher classes of gaming which would include card games, roulette, etc. The bill is not meaty enough myself and leave too much wide open. It is so vauge that I do not know if it will recoup the taxes owed to the state and if it will give special considerations the gaming facilities already open. Personally, I think we have plenty at this point.
My proposal - if were to be legalized - tax the heck out of the profits of the gaming facilities - at least 50%. Take that money and put it in an Education Trust Fund and a Public Safety Trust Fund - 75% and 25% respectfully. Current budgets for both will still submitted to the legislature and Governor and will be increased based on inflation on the cost of "doing business". The two trust funds are strictly "extra" money out there NOT a replacement. There should be no relying on the spending habits of gamblers. The money cannot be used for anything else EVER. Two other provisions is that facilities owners must give at least 10% to charities that benefit Alabamians and last but not least, the facility owners would have to dump money into programs to deal with people who might have a "problem" with gambling.
Everyone talks about the "moral" question of gaming. I guess you can call me a liberal, anti-family, anti-religion on this or hoping for the Apocalypse but maybe I just cant see how my losing of $60 over the last 6 years makes me immoral. I have lost more money on other crap.
Years ago, there was a former Governor of Alabama trying to institute a "education lottery" much like Florida and Georgia. It failed miserably but when a county needs to up the property taxes in a vote the answer is HELL NO! If an extra $50 a YEAR is going to keep my kid from being in a classroom with 50 kids, have a teacher overworked, and have to possibly buy $200 of classroom supplies every year, I will pay it. Every time I got across the state line into those states, I always buy lottery tickets. Does that make me a gambler as well? Heck, I call it a donation to keep that kid in school in the hopes that it keeps them from coming to my house and making me have to put two in them for breaking and entering.
According to the US Census in 2006, there were 4.6 million persons living in Alabama. Nobody likes taxes but lets say that half of Alabama's resident purchased a lottery ticket once a week. That would $119,600,000.00 a year. Now of course, that is just so I can get a big number figure in your head. Not money people buy one lottery ticket a week and throw in people visiting or passing through the state that might was to "donate" to the education of Alabama kids than so be it, it could be a windfall.
My thought on it is to take advantage of the people (gaming owners) who in a sense take advantage of people who work hard for their money. If they have no problem taking it, let's fix some things with the money we collect from them in taxes and programs. Sometimes the simpler the solution is better.