As state governments continue to struggle with declining tax revenue, the pressure to raise money through government gambling operations continues. Having just about maxed out lottery earnings, at least 14 states are considering proposals to expand slot machines and casinos, effectively levying a voluntary tax on people who low in math skills and high on risk-taking.

The argument is always the same: “surrounding states have gambling operations, so we have to have them or our residents will just spend their money across the border.” So, a vicious cycle continues as states move from lotteries to slot machines to full-fledged casinos, and we get more states offering more gambling venues that compete with each other. Instead of offering gambling just to keep other states from getting the money, states end up competing for the same gamblers, advertising heavily and encouraging their citizens to voluntarily turn over their money in return for a momentary thrill.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: selling hope to desperate people is just plain wrong.

Nobody likes paying taxes, but it would be more moral for the states to raise taxes for everyone than to snooker the gullible out of money that ought to be feeding their families.

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