Stossel hits the nail on the head in his recent blog post. Apparently, Bill O’Reilly reached out to him for feedback on the issue of legalized sports gambling. Let’s hope he listens to Stossel’s answers and comes to a similar conclusion. As I wrote on Forbes.com, Republicans aren’t always keen on consistently defending individual liberty once gambling becomes part of the equation.
Should sports betting be legalized? Should there be more casinos? Is it a legitimate way for the government to earn tax revenue? The boiled down, nutshell response Stossel provided was, “yes” to all three.
Adult Americans should have the right to do with their money whatever they choose. If there’s a market demand for more casinos and business is willing to build them, why not have more? And if any taxation is legitimate, then revenue from taxing casinos and bookies (whether online or offline) is as legitimate as taxing any other business.
And Stossel is right in calling out politicians who oppose gambling as hypocrites; they are the worst kind. Most states have a state-run lottery, which offers worse odds than almost any casino game. In addition, almost every politician claims to want to improve the economies and job markets in their state. Well, gambling is a lucrative business that creates many opportunities for jobs within the industry and ancillary industries. In addition, skilled bettors can earn a steady income from their wagering, much like how investors earn money “playing” the stock market.
As I illustrated in my recent Washington Times article, there are thousands of average Americans, including parents, retirees, unemployed workers, etc. gambling online and making a steady income from that activity.
Of course, there are plenty of gamblers who lose money, but if you’ve ever bet on a game or played in a friendly game of poker, you know that they gained value. Going into the game they know they could lose a few bucks, but they’re almost guaranteed to get their money’s worth in entertainment. That’s more than most can say when they throw down $10 and two hours at the movie theater.
Banning sports betting, or any betting for that matter, is just a thinly veiled attempt to serve special interests — or worse, to force a brand of morality on supposedly free adults.