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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The casino debate in Ohio - missing the point

There are a few problems with how this debate is framed that I would like to discuss. Casino proponents in Ohio have been trying time and time again, and are set for another round. For me, this is just another highlight of the injustices in the government we are forced to live under. It's disturbing how people waste so many resources on fights like this, in order to have the simple freedom to bet their own money on games of chance. It is yet another glaring problem with democracy and mob rule - the vast economic resources that are spent trying to get things past instead of allowing people the freedom to choose.

To the christian groups fighting this, who think gambling is immoral - banning it will NEVER succeed in getting people to stop or getting it out of society. Just like how banning alcohol did nothing to eraticate the unpleasant side affects of alcoholism. Gambling has been here for thousands of years, and is here to stay. Why do you keep insisting on holding the rest of us down? Does it makes you feel better about yourselves to have this control over people who don't share your views? What do you gain from this, other than smug self-satisfaction?

Another problem with these continual ballot measures is the state control aspect even if they do pass. There would still serious restrictions on gambling in the state. Only certain companies could legally set up gambling operations in approved locations. Thus we see that, even if the measures are successful in getting passed, the state would still be handing out monopolies on this priviledge. True freedom would entail the ability for people to set up mini-casinos in their basement if they wished.

I've never been a very big gambler myself. The only form of gambling that I really enjoy is the Texas Hold'em variation of poker, a game which actually takes tremendous skill to be successful over the long run. I played it online virtually every day for 2-3 years, before I got burnt out. When I stopped, I actually ended up with only minor losses. I suspected I would have a renewed interest in playing the game if I go down to the neighborhood bar and pay $20 to enter a multi-table tournament. Currently, holding a neighborhood tournament like this is outlawed in most states as far as I know. Even in states where some semblance of gambling is legal, you can only do it in state-approved institutions, thus ensuring their monopolist take on this highly lucrative venture.

There are so many reasons why living in a democracy ultimately ends up being repressive and not free at all. I'll concede that we have more freedom than other countries have had in the past, but the situation is still far from ideal. True freedom will never exist until people have the ability to set up any non-violent activity they wish without being raided by the police. Even if some people end up engaging in self-destructive behavior, society would be must better off over all.

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