Gambling lobbyists lose a few

February 28, 2012 10:08 am

South Carolina is the latest example that shows the push to legalize casinos and expand gambling in states stems from well-paid lobbyists and not the public at large.

A report in the Charlotte Observer says South Carolina is being “targeted” by powerful lobbyists pushing a wave of gambling proposals. In particular, the cockroaches, er, lobbyists are pushing for a casino on an Indian reservation as well as new “sweepstakes” machines in convenience stores statewide and Internet cafes in Charleston.

More access to gambling would strip more wealth from South Carolina residents, in particular the poor, elderly and minority. That would be a terrible public policy in a state with so many low income residents. Fortunately, a spokesman for Gov. Nikki Haley said the governor has no interest in supporting more legalized gambling.

That’s another victory for smart public policy. State lawmakers that try to balance their budgets by stripping wealth from residents they are sworn to protect are being short sighted, given that gambling adds so little to the economy and often leads to increased social and economic costs, including more crime, divorce and bankruptcy.

Haley’s opposition to more gambling in South Carolina is also part of a mini win streak for anti-gambling forces. Efforts – pushed by gambling lobbyists – to legalize casinos in Florida and Kentucky were recently turned away. Likewise, efforts to legalize casinos in Hawaii – which has no gambling – are gaining little support. But that doesn’t mean the gambling lobbyists won’t be back.

Utah gets it on gambling

February 10, 2012 9:22 am

While many other states are rushing blindly over the gambling cliff, lawmakers in Utah are working to keep the insidious vice out of their state. 

Rep. Stephen Sandstrom, (R-Orem) introduced a bill to block Internet gambling. The state measure is designed to preempt and federal efforts to legalize Internet gambling. Sandstrom said the bill is also needed to keep any Indian tribes (and their private equity bankers from Wall Street) from trying to establish a gambling operation in the state.

Utah and Hawaii are the only two states without ANY form of legalized gambling. Utah, of course, is home to a large Mormon population. That religion wisely prohibits members from wasting their time and money gambling. ”I think that defines who we and what we are as a state,” Sandstrom said of Utah’s anti-gambling status. “I think that’s one reason we’re so productive.”

Indeed, Utah is known for its beauty and high quality of life. Of course, Hawaii’s quality of life is not too shabby either. The lack of gambling certainly contributes to both states’ excellent quality of life. Both states are examples for lawmakers around the country that seem addicted to gambling as a misguided way to solve their problems.