I like to bet on sports. Having a stake in the game, even if it’s just five bucks, makes it more exciting. I also like playing poker. “Unacceptable!” say politicians in much of America. “Gambling sometimes leads to ‘addiction,’ destitute families!”
Well, it can.
So politicians ban it. It’s why we no longer see a poker game in the back of bars. Half the states even ban poker between friends—though they rarely enforce that.
After banning things, politicians’ second favorite activity is granting special privileges to a few people who do those same things—so big casinos flourish, and most states run their own lotteries. Running lotteries is one of the more horrible things our governments do. The poor buy the most tickets, and states offer them terrible odds. The government entered the lottery business promising to end the “criminal numbers racket.” Now states do what the “criminals” did but offer much worse odds. Adding insult to their scam, politicians also spend our tax money promoting lotteries with disgusting commercials that trash hard work, implying that happiness comes from hedonism.
CONTINUED at Reason. Written by John Stossel.