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.