Monday, September 3, 2007

Gambling: 'Err on the side of freedom'

Here is an opinion piece that illustrates why Jeff Jacoby, a conservative columnist for the Boston Globe, remains one of my favorite commentators.


“So it goes, year after year, in state after state: Entrepreneurs and investors who ought to have the same freedom to operate a casino as they would to open a shoe store or start a newspaper are forced instead to run an exhausting and expensive political gauntlet, often with no guarantee that casino gambling will even be permitted, let alone that they'll win a license to build one. How many other peaceful businesses offering a popular form of entertainment face such formidable legal and political barriers to entry?

“Why do state governments treat casinos and their would-be owners this way? It can't be from any inherent objections to gambling -- 42 states have government-run lotteries, with annual revenues of more than $50 billion. It can't be because gambling is intrinsically immoral. Countless churches and religious organizations raise funds through bingo, lotteries, and Las Vegas nights. And it certainly can't be said that gambling flouts our national tradition. The Continental Congress established a national lottery to help finance the Revolutionary War. Riverboat gambling thrived on Mark Twain's Mississippi. Saloon gambling was a mainstay of the California Gold Rush. Gambling is as American as bourbon and Betsy Ross.”

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