Saturday, July 03, 2004

A sucker's bet

The state House of Representatives has delayed voting on a slots bill until they get a bill requiring some of the proceeds go to property tax relief. The Trib quotes Oakmont Democrat Frank Dermody calling slots a win-win proposition for local taxpayers: "You don't ever have to put a dollar in a slot machine, and you'll get a property tax cut." Ah, yes, but in order for the state to realize the kind of revenues officials have been promising, a lot of people are going to have to sink a lot of dollars into slot machines, a lot of dollars that won't be going to other businesses, like restaurants, movie theaters, etc. State officials need to stop acting like this is free money--it ain't free. In fact, it ain't even cheap.

That's not to say I'm opposed to legalized gambling. I've surrendered some of my own spare change in the past to one-arm bandits. Besides, state governments long ago gave up any moral authority they had to outlow gambling when they started funding programs with lottery proceeds. But I'd prefer to see gambling confined to where it already exists--race tracks. Stand-alone slot parlors, in my opinion, will do more harm than good.

There is one benefit to this latest slots legislation--it may kill the proposed race track in Hays. See Friday's Trib.


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