State Lotteries & Selective Morality about Gambling

by on August 26, 2007 · 4 comments

We’ve done a lot of writing about Internet gambling issues here at the TLF over the years. (Complete archives here). One of the things that always intrigues me about these debates is how passionate some policymakers can get about the supposed “evils” of private online gambling even though many of them support state-run lotteries.

What got me thinking about this again was an article in Sunday’s Washington Post entitled, “Officials Laud D.C. Lottery as Success.” The D.C. Lottery turns 25 this week and, in the article, one local lawmaker after another celebrates the fact that more than $1.4 billion has been generated by the lottery for the city treasury. “Every time you buy a lottery ticket, the city wins,” says the current DC Lottery director. And former DC mayor Marion Barry, who currently serves as a DC council member, argues that, “Nobody makes anybody play the lottery… It’s a voluntary contribution to the D.C. treasury. It was a great vision.”

OK, so what’s wrong with people playing for their own enjoyment? Nobody makes anyone play private games of chance either. But because the money goes to private interests instead of the State, apparently it’s immoral and “evil.” Stupid.

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