If you read yesterday’s post on “Britain’s Gambling Epidemic,” you saw that my fellow blogger, Ajoobacats, a medical doctor living in Britain, was really, really mad at me for posting that article, based as it was on information from newspaper articles in The Daily Mail and The Times. I won’t put words in her mouth: you can read her comments for yourself.
But let me say this.
I was a newspaper editor when they introduced a state lottery and then legalized casino gambling here in New Jersey, back in the 1970s. I was there. I covered it. I saw it.
The immediate effect of this was to entice millions of people into gambling who otherwise wouldn’t have been gambling. I remember the pair of schoolteachers who blew their whole life savings on lottery tickets–something like $20,000, at least. They made a huge fuss, and wound up having a face-to-face meeting with the state lottery commissioner–who had a hard time trying to make them understand that when the odds against winning are something like 400 million to one, 400 million to 20,000 really isn’t that much better. It would be on the order of 1 million to 50, if my mental arithmetic is right.
Senior citizens on fixed incomes flocked to Atlantic City to burn up their grocery money on the slot machines. In the inner cities, the lines stretch around the block, the day the Powerball winner is selected. (Given the odds against, there usually isn’t one.)
But I’ll tell you what made the biggest impression on me.
A few years ago, I fell into a conversation with a young woman from an economically depressed area. She already had two out-of-wedlock children by two different men, and was pregnant with a third, by a third. This poor creature confided in me her simple plan for the rest of her life:
To win the lottery and move out West and buy a horse farm, because she loves horses.
To win the lottery. That was her plan.
I don’t care what libertarians say. Gambling is stupid, and for the state to foster it, to grow it, is moral imbecility on the part of persons in the government.
So, no–based on what I’ve seen here at home, I have no trouble at all believing that people in Britain have increased their gambling activities after the government permitted gambling machines to be set up all over the cities.
If that hasn’t happened, I would be surprised. It would go against sinful human nature.