In this week’s Acton Commentary, I examine the most recent buzz-worthy trend in the lottery industry: privatization.
While most critics of these moves have pointed to the foolhardiness of selling off a long-term income stream for a lump sum jackpot, I argue that privatization by itself does nothing to address the underlying problems afflicting the lottery business. I conclude, “A government-run monopoly would merely be replaced by a government-enforced monopoly.”
Let’s engage in a little thought experiment. How would you feel about the following scenario?
1) The government bans all activities associated with Industry X because it judges that this industry damages the common good. Industry X is under government prohibition.
I just completed an interview that will air this Sunday on the Michigan Talk Network about state-run lotteries and Christian views on gambling for the “Michigan Gaming and Casino Show,” hosted by Ron Pritchard.
“All forms of gambling are predatory and immoral in their very essence,” says Rev. Albert Mohler.
I don’t agree, at least insofar as his identification of what makes gambling essentially immoral is not necessarily unique to games of chance: the enticement for people to “risk their money for the vain hope of financial gain.” Stock markets come to mind.
Radley Balko, blogging at Cato@Liberty (he also blogs at The Agitator), writes about the creeping campaign in Washington state to crack down on internet gambling. A new law would impose “up to a five-year prison term for people who gamble online,” but since passage has also been used to “to go after people who merely write about gambling.” Citing an editorial in the Seattle Times, the law prohibits not only online betting but also transmitting “gambling information.”