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 Post subject: Gambling
PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 8:43 pm 
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This is a big issue here in Oklahoma at the moment (or actually for the last few years). Currently we have gaming only on Indian land (which, as far as I know, is the way it's going to stay), and it's really crappy: slots, bingo, horse races, and a poor man's version of video poker where you don't make any decisions. That's it. You can enter blackjack tournaments, too, but I wouldn't like that -- I preferred just sitting down at a blackjack table at any old time, thankyouverymuch.

So, they've been trying to push a lottery. Ugh.

I hate unintelligent gambling with a passion (my own mother is a slot machine addict, and I mean addict in the literal sense), and the lottery is the worst form of gambling ever conceived. Millions of people buy tickets with money they can't afford to lose on the assumption that some day they can win. Other people can afford to lose the money, but it's still really a waste. Some people win the lottery and they prove that they waste money by throwing away all their winnings -- and no doubt some of it goes into playing the lottery some more. Some people have won twice, after all.

I think people have a problem with gambling because they associate it with stupid gamblers. I am not a chump. First off, I don't play games where I don't have any chance of winning. I played slot machines a bit, but I've never played with my own money, either, save one occasion I think where I was really bored and there was no blackjack -- and I find them thoroughly boring. Craps can be exciting, but it's a fool's game, so I wouldn't play it except out of boredom. (Though I've never had a chance to play it since I'm not 21 yet. Legal gambling age is 18 here, but as I said before, we don't have anything.)

But games like poker? Now we're talking.

Poker is a game of skill. I don't care what your uncle who always loses his money says, luck has a role in the game but it's a fairly small part if you play well. And best of all, you don't play against the house. The house doesn't care one whit whether you win or lose. They take a "rake" from the pot, but not so much that odds are against anybody. So it's a perfectly fair game. Sure, suckers still lose money. A good game of poker needs losers. But these losers still usually have a good time and they get something for their money. Also, they have more realistic expectations: they know you can't win a million dollars playing at a $3/$6 table. Poker is decidedly better than slot machines, in my mind.

So why does this state continue to push stupid forms of gambling, while ignoring the better forms (often with a condescending remark about this state becoming Las Vegas, heaven forbid)? And what are the problems with better forms, anyway?

I know why we don't have good gambling here, by the way: the Baptists push to keep it out. Why? I'm not a Baptist, and I don't like Baptists telling me what to do in such matters. So why should the law apply to me?

Sorry this has been rambly and incoherent, but I'm not going to manage much better than this today, so here it is.

- Kef


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 10:24 pm 
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I had a probability teacher in college who called the lottery a tax on the uneducated.

His big argument against the lottery was that the people who put the most money into it are the ones who need the money the worst. And in a lot of states, they use the money earned from the lottery to fund education. He found it a bit ironic that those with the least amount of education were paying for the education of everyone else.

I knew a guy in the Dominican Republic that was unable to get a real job because he didn't have a birth certificate. It cost quite a bit of money to get a birth certificate, so it didn't seem like it was gonna happen. One day, he actually won a decent jackpot at the lottery, with more than enough money for him to get a birth certificate so he could get a real job. Instead, he spent the money on a 27" tv, a new refrigerator, and beer to fill it with. I just couldn't believe it. This guy had to beg money to feed his family, and when he gets the opportunity to make some real money....


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2004 3:06 am 
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Gambling is a really tough issue.. Outside of the usual NCAA tournament pool, the KY Derby, and the annual fantasy football pool I started with some friends my freshman year of college (5 years ago), I don't gamble often.
We have a lottery here in Kentucky, as well as off-track betting. A lot of people are pushing for casinos. There are the usual "Gambling is immoral" or "Gambling is a blight on society!" people pushing against it. Personally, I look at this at the same way I look at a lot of issues; I'm not for it, but I think that the will of the people should prevail, if a majority of people are for casino gambling, let them have it (I believe that, even in a fake democracy, people should get what they want every now and then) Then, if things don't work out, we can undo the laws...

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 3:59 am 
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Just an update. I started playing poker online for real money and am currently ahead $180 (USD) :)


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 3:15 pm 
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StrongRad wrote:
Gambling is a really tough issue.


Why, exactly? The only reason the government could have for banning gambling is the same as the gay marriage controversy: a religion that not everyone follows and is allegedly separated from the state says it's wrong. That's no reason to make it illegal.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 3:50 pm 
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Well, there are a number non-religious arguments against gambling. Many people contend that gambling is a social ill and there have been many sociological articles written about it. I haven't read many of them, but if you're interested in the arguments I'm sure they're worth checking out. And then there's the people who say that, as racerx has mentioned, gambling is "a tax on the uneducated". Is that a reason to make it illegal? I dunno.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 5:12 pm 
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InterruptorJones wrote:
And then there's the people who say that, as racerx has mentioned, gambling is "a tax on the uneducated".


On poker I'd have to disagree with that notion, though, because it's very much a game of skill. It's very plausible for an uneducated person to be a great poker player, and it's plausible (if unlikely) for even an accomplished mathematician to be a bad player. On casino gambling, though, I'd have to agree -- there's just no smart reason to play house games (other than blackjack, and then if you're very skilled) for anything but "fun" and it's too easy for it to become more than just fun. If any kind of gambling should be banned, it should be lotteries and slot machines.

- Kef


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 5:37 pm 
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InterruptorJones wrote:
Well, there are a number non-religious arguments against gambling. Many people contend that gambling is a social ill and there have been many sociological articles written about it. I haven't read many of them, but if you're interested in the arguments I'm sure they're worth checking out. And then there's the people who say that, as racerx has mentioned, gambling is "a tax on the uneducated". Is that a reason to make it illegal? I dunno.


Personally, I'm not swayed by the "social ill" argument - if someone wants to bet (and potentially lose) all their money, why not let them?

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 5:52 pm 
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Upsilon wrote:
Personally, I'm not swayed by the "social ill" argument - if someone wants to bet (and potentially lose) all their money, why not let them?


I can't help but play devil's advocate, here: What if they're raising three kids? Is it okay for them to lose all their money gambling then?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 7:40 pm 
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InterruptorJones wrote:
Upsilon wrote:
Personally, I'm not swayed by the "social ill" argument - if someone wants to bet (and potentially lose) all their money, why not let them?


I can't help but play devil's advocate, here: What if they're raising three kids? Is it okay for them to lose all their money gambling then?


Then it's their own fault for taking that risk - people need to take responsibility for themselves instead of blaming others for their own mistakes! "It wasn't my fault I hit him - I saw it on Bugs Bunny!"

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 7:51 pm 
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However, these peoples' choices effect more than their own life. IJ made a good point about that. Also, if someone loses all of their money, the rest of us end up paying to support that person to a degree. Whether they need welfare, or if they declare bankruptcy, it affects us in the form of higher taxes and higher interest rates (lending companies need to recoup the money they lose from people who default on borrowed money.)

People should be responsible for their actions, but many gamble themselves into a situation where they no longer have power to get out of the debt they've incurred. And many people believe that gambling is addictive as well. If it is, that just makes it all the harder for people to quit, even when they realize the destruction it is causing to their financial life.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 8:00 pm 
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StrongCanada wrote:
Then it's their own fault for taking that risk - people need to take responsibility for themselves instead of blaming others for their own mistakes! "It wasn't my fault I hit him - I saw it on Bugs Bunny!"


I certainly believe that people should accept blame for their own actions, but in my little scenario that doesn't change the fact that this person (or rather this class of person) has put both himself and his children into poverty. The cause of each such hypothetical case is not gambling, but poor choices by the parents. But one could argue that if gambling was made illegal, this class of situation would be all but nonexistent, which is cause enough for it to be outlawed.

I don't necessarily agree with the above argument, but an easy trap to fall into is to say that X is not a societal problem (that should be addressed with new legislation) because it can be identified as a number of individuals making stupid choices on an individual basis. The NRA could (did?) make the same sort of argument about the assualt weapons ban, saying that having assault weapons available for puchase does not worsen gun crime: rather, the trouble is a number of people acting on an individual basis who make stupid choices in their use of assault weapons.

Gah. I need to put a big "devil's advocate" button to put at the top of posts like this.

One possible response to my hypothetical situation (I mean the gambling parents, not the assault weapons) would be to say that we already have laws to deal with parens like this, i.e. social services/child protection. Since I just pulled this hypothetical out of my arse I honestly don't know if it's even a widespread issue (it wouldn't surprise me), or how well our current child protection laws handle situations like this. It might be a non-issue.

If I didn't hate writing research papers so much, I might easily have majored in Sociology.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 8:03 pm 
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You make excellent points. Well, then perhaps there needs to be more focus on recovery programs like Gambler's Anonymous. Maybe gamblers should be limited as to how much money they can spend on gambling per year, perhaps....and before you say that we can't step on people's rights like that, consider that restuarants often impose a limit on how much alcohol they can serve to intoxicated people, in an effort to protect the business if an intoxicated person were to have an accident after drinking alcohol at that restuarant. It'd be a similar safeguard, I think.

Making gambling illegal will probably only worsen the problem.

As for the bankruptcy issue, people go bankrupt for many reasons...some their fault, some not...are we going to make other things illegal just to keep people from filing for bankruptcy?

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 13, 2004 11:40 pm 
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StrongCanada wrote:
Maybe gamblers should be limited as to how much money they can spend on gambling per year, perhaps....and before you say that we can't step on people's rights like that, consider that restuarants often impose a limit on how much alcohol they can serve to intoxicated people, in an effort to protect the business if an intoxicated person were to have an accident after drinking alcohol at that restuarant. It'd be a similar safeguard, I think.


Hmm, may not be a bad idea but it's tricky because I think that the limit should only apply to losses. That is, if I win $500 and lose it the next day it should not count against me. Otherwise, it'd be impossible to make a living at playing poker, whereas it is currently a viable profession in states where it's legal if you're skilled enough. But this all would require complete and accurate track of winnings and losses. People should keep such records anyway but most probably wouldn't want to bother.

- Kef


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 12:40 am 
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I want the lottery. It will help the schools. Just tell people to use it responsibly and you'll be OK.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 12:43 am 
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woddfellow2 wrote:
Just tell people to use it responsibly and you'll be OK.


I hope you're trying to be ironic, here. This is like giving a bunch of college kids a keg and a case of fireworks and telling them to use them responsibly. Or something.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 12:57 am 
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My mother (who plays the lottery from time to time) raised a good point: people who'd blow their paycheck hoping they'll win will just go out of state to buy a ticket if they have to. Buying lottery tickets out of state is very common here...


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 1:20 am 
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Yes, the governor wants a lottery, but the Republicans fought him on it.

w00t! 10 posts in 1 day! :mrgreen: :eekdance:

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Last edited by woddfellow2 on Fri Jan 28, 2005 2:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 3:56 am 
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I gamble once in a while. Scratch-offs, some tickets, and the occasional casino trip is the extent of it. Gambling is not a problem if you do it safely. But it becomes a problem when people spend their whole day in front of a slot machine. There is help for those with a gambling addictions though. But people won't admit to it or realise it. That's why their family should help them out too. With responsible people gambling occasionally there should be no problem. And with regards to funding education, what they tell us is not all true. In Ny not even half of the money made from the lottery goes to education, which it was meant for. The money goes to winners, lottery employees, and to the state congress people as bonuses.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 8:37 pm 
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InterruptorJones wrote:
This is like giving a bunch of college kids a keg and a case of fireworks and telling them to use them responsibly. Or something.


Note to self: pick graduate school close to IJ for drunken pyrotechnic adventures.

As far as what ramrod said, it seems to also be the case in Kentucky. Here, we are told that the lottery pays for education, and it does, to some extent, through KEES scholarships, and other forms of funding, but I really don't think what is being paid into education equals the amount of profit being taken in by the lottery.
Perhaps there are better ways than gambling to pay for education.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 8:47 pm 
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StrongRad wrote:
Note to self: pick graduate school close to IJ for drunken pyrotechnic adventures.


Heh. Actually, you may want to talk to Stu about that. Well, not so much about the drunkenness, but the pyrotechnics..

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 14, 2004 9:10 pm 
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Note to all readers: IJ dosn't condone drunken pyrotechnics and strongly urges you not to try any experements with drunken kids playing with fireworks. Even though it sounds really fun :) .



okey dokey back on topic:

If gambeling benifits the state (say NY for example) then I say more power to it, even if the bible says it isn't moral it's your problem that you even went to the casino anyway. New York needs the money anyway, we are in deep debt and it would be nice if NY city teachers get the cash they deserve and then mabye just mabye they will stay in their respective schools instead of leaving for westchester.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 4:17 am 
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1.
Prof. Tor Coolguy wrote:
...even if the bible says it isn't moral...

I'm a little confused by this. I haven't devoted long thought--and certainly not any research--to this, but I can't come up with the argument for gambling being immoral. Especially a biblical one. I mean, I can see how it would be unwise, or even destructive and addictive, but immoral? I know the Bible says we should be "good stewards" of our resources, but that's really more an issue of responsibility and common sense than of "morality." (Note: I'm not saying such a defense doesn't exist; I'm just saying that, off the top of my head, I can't think of one. Perhaps someone else can supply it.)

2. Surely, furrykef, you know why people are pushing for a lottery instead of poker; it's the only form where "the house" is the state government! (Okay, not the only form; but the main one.)

3. With regard to the "What if someone was stupid enough to go bankrupt gambling; isn't that their individual responsibility" question: This changes a lot in terms of the form and the scale of the gambling. Say our hypothetical father lost his life earnings, leaving his children penniless paupers, in a pick-up game of poker. You're hardly going to fault the other players for "taking advantage" of him; he knew the risks going into it. In fact, on this more personal level, they might even cut him some slack.
Now say he lost it at a casino; this casino (albeit an impersonal entity) has a moral responsibility for the fact that it set up these high-odds games and has ruined this guy. But you could still make the same argument; the casino is a capitalist business, and it's just turning a buck (or a few thousand).
But now let's say you're a state deciding whether to implement a lottery. You know that statistically more players will be lower-income or underpriviledged, and that many will be addicts. You, the state, would have the same moral responsibility for making this man's ruin possible and encouraging him to it. (Is it the full responsibility? Of course not. The man is responsible for his choice.) But there was never any question for the casino whether to go into business or not; that's what it does. But you, a state government, are NOT a capitalist business; you are, in theory, a non-profit agency. Yes, you need revenue to do your state-government stuff--but you can't necessarily adopt wholesale all the practices of a successful business.

'Nuff of this; I'm starting to be one of those long-posters; that's not necessary.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 15, 2004 5:36 am 
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notstrongorbad wrote:
2. Surely, furrykef, you know why people are pushing for a lottery instead of poker; it's the only form where "the house" is the state government! (Okay, not the only form; but the main one.)


But other forms of gambling could be regulated and taxed and the government wouldn't have to bother with the overhead of managing it and giving out winnings.


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