Leave gambling to crooks to avoid regressive taxation

In response to your article “Lottery bets on electronics to fight the illegal numbers games” (March 8) it amazes me how lawmakers around the globe continue to prey on the most vulnerable members of society by running games of chance such as lotteries, electronic or otherwise, to balance budgets or generate new streams of revenue.

Here in the U.S. I see a growing trend of licensing new casinos in the name of job-generation. Every down-on-their-luck municipality is scrambling to establish these facilities. After the luster of the bright lights and new construction fades they are left with the sad faces of seniors and the disabled cashing in their pension and social security checks on futile games of chance and empty dreams.

As for state/municipal lotteries these seem to be even less redeeming ventures. No construction jobs building casinos. No staffing jobs operating casinos. Just automated dispensers (or video games) in bars, grocery stores, and liquor marts spewing out empty promises of fortunes and salvation. I know that independent vendors sell these tickets on the streets of Costa Rican towns and cities, but this work seems marginal and, from what I read, dangerous. I read somewhere that, in the U.S., two-thirds of people living below the poverty line spend one-third of their incomes on lottery tickets.

State-operated games of chance are, at best, a questionable form of regressive taxation. Citizens should ask their lawmakers if government should be involved in directly defrauding the public in the name of revenue generation. Perhaps games of chance should remain the domain of criminal enterprise.

Craig W. Weir
Reston, Virginia
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