March 16, 2015

I'm A Gambling Fool!

The second part of the so-called sin tax triad that we'll talk about today is gambling.

We all gamble in some way, shape or form. Whether its between friends, a football pool (popular in my neck of the woods), lottery, casinos, bookies, etc., it doesn't matter what the event is, we will gamble on it. It's sort of in our genetics, kind of like a bad social gene. Most of the time, we have fun with it and don't thing about the consequences.

Note: I will not get preachy about gambling here, because I do play the lottery, numbers and Powerball. If you can control it, more power to you. If you can't, there are programs that can help you. There are also people who are more than willing to put you into permanent traction because you can't control it as well.

For politicians, gambling is the perpetual Free Money Friday. Why? Because on both sides of the political spectrum, politicians are incapable of fiscal restraint. Instead of actually doing something for the people that elected them (i.e. curb spending, reduce expenditures, increase revenue, help business create jobs, etc.), they want to either maintain the status quo or, sadly, increase the deficit spending.

And what better way to do that, than to have all kinds of state sanctioned gambling for people to blow their hard earned money on.

Today, I would like to offer the wonderful state of Connecticut on how the insidiousness of state sanctioned gambling has permanently affected our economic engines. And I'll bring a unique perspective to this issue, because I've seen it grow from the ground level as a retailer and as a customer.

State sanctioned gambling was first introduced on our state by the first female guv'nor in CT (a Democrat) in the mid-70's, and she got it to pass the legislature with that time honored tradition of saying that the revenue was for "education" (major lie). For the first decade or so, it was just a weekly game, with winners randomly drawn to participate in the larger pie-in-the-sky monthly drawings. By the mid-80's, the weekly was replaced by numbers and instants.

With the instants, they first had 1 new game at a time being played. By the turn of the decade (90's), they had more than one going at the same time. That was followed by such things as forcing retailers carry both numbers and instants (previously you could go either or), bar codes on tickets, multiple games in price ranging from $1 to $30, and finally, cash lotto, lotto and Powerball.

Currently in our state, there are roughly 50+ instant games going on at the same time, as well as numbers (daily and nightly), and five other kinds of computer games.

Just to give you a idea on how much a cash cow state sanctioned gambling is, let me give you an example of what an average $1 instant game generates for the state:

1} An average printing run for a game is roughly 6,000,000 tickets.
2} Out of that 6,000,000 ticket run, they paid out a nicker per to retailers for commission, which is $300K.
3} Total prizes awarded is on average, say $500K. That means a top prize of $100K with the remainder being parceled out in dollar values from a free ticket to about $50K.
4} That leaves a net profit of $5.2 million that goes to the state coffers. Money that more than likely, you will never see trickle down to you.

More food for thought: All electronic games (e.g numbers and Powerball) generate even more money to the state. About five years ago, the state cut the commission paid to retailers by 25%, with the reason being they wanted to "balance the budget".

So here in Connecticut, for every ticket that you purchase from a machine, the retailer will earn a flat rate of three cents per number ticket and a nickel per lotto/Powerball ticket. The rest goes to the guv'ment, and in the case of Powerball, the state of Iowa.

Free Money Friday, in the form of state-sanctioned gambling, means that politicians never, ever, ever have to go through the process of fiscal responsibility, because so long as dolts like you and me, spend our hard-earned money on this garbage, the less we have the right to squawk about.

Or, do we?

Up next: More Free Money Friday, in the form of Native American Sovereign Nation Casino Gambling, or for those of you who don't have any Native American Sovereign Nations, State Sanctioned Casino Gambling.

(c) 2015 by G.B. Miller. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Makes you wonder where the money goes? It's supposed to go to education in our state as well, but the schools don't see any of it.

    1. I've always wondered where the money really goes in our state. We have a "general (slush) fund" for stuff like that, but I've yet to see it used for what it's intended purpose is now.

  2. They say that any form of gambling is a tax on the stupid. I believe in paying my taxes! Ha ha, actually the only gambling I do is minor stuff. To me, this issue seems very simple. If people don't want to piss away their money, they shouldn't gamble. But don't choose to gamble and then bitch about it. It's better that our money should go to the government than to organized crime, isn't it? And if some of it goes to Indian casinos, WTF should I care? Let them have it. We got all of North America from them essentially for free. Again, don't bitch about it. No one is forcing anyone to gamble. Except for addicts, but that's a whole other issue.

  3. I probably spend an average of a couple of dollars each week on lotto tickets. Rarely do we go to a casino and when we do I might set a $20 limit if anything while my wife, who actually seems to have more of a tendency to win than I do, usually sets her limit at $40. It's been a couple of years since our last casino visit.

    My biggest gambling peeve is the insurance industry. I guess it's almost a necessary evil and it has paid off for me more than a few times. I hate that it's often a case of in order to win you have to lose and in the meantime the CEO's of the big insurers are making multimillion dollars in pay, options, and benefits. But still, insurance basically works as a type of gambling scheme.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    A Faraway View

    1. It's been years since I've visited a casino here in CT, and when I did, it was mostly to spend a sunny Saturday with the wife. I lost about $10 playing the slots and wife didn't do any gambling.

      I agree, insurance (of any kind) is definitely a gambling scheme. I have quite a few peeves about both insurance and the guv'ment which I'll express some day in a blog post. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. It's funny--we FINALLY got the lottery in Tennessee just a decade or so ago. It was highly protested by churches...but it's brought in all kinds of money for education. There's a lottery scholarship that allows kids to go to school who might not have otherwise. Dave Ramsey calls it a "fool's tax" but if kids benefit by getting a college education, I'm all for it!

    1. I'm genuinely glad to hear that the money is actually being used what it was intended for. It's kind of a catch-22, in that in order to get money for scholarships, you have to convince people to gamble, which in turns can create false hope at times and empty wallets, and you have to convince people that the money they're giving up is going to a good cause.

  5. The only gambling I do is, very occasionally, bingo with my friend Val the Bingo Queen. I never actually expect to win. I just think of it as a fun night out with friends. Imagine my surprise when we won $10,000! As per our pre-arranged arrangement, Val and her guy took half, and Ken and I took half, after the caller got his tip. Sweet!

    1. Funny you should mention bingo. I met my wife on a blind date that was set up between our respective mothers at bingo. In fact, the only time that I've played bingo was while I was dating my wife back in the mid 80's. Stopped playing once we got married.


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