I saw an ad on the Metro this morning from Econ4U.org, a project of the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy (CEEL) ...
It got me thinking: gambling is one of those issues where there are two distinct opinions on the Right. Libertarians argue that all forms gambling should be legalized. Social conservatives argue that the negative externalities and social consequences overwhelm any argument for the freedom to gamble. Some states have extensive licensing for gambling (like Nevada and New Jersey) and other states have strict restrictions or prohibitions on it (Utah and Alaska).
Both sides have valid arguments on gambling itself. But what about government-run/government-monopoly gambling for the purposes of raising revenue for their general funds?
Last November, Maryland passed a ballot initiative allowing for government-run video lottery terminals to raise money for education. Gerald Prante and Alicia Hansen of the Tax Foundation wrote opposing views on government-run slots a day before the election. Prante argued for passage, saying that while "under an ideal fiscal system in Maryland, slots would be permitted to operate freely and the rate of return in the marketplace would be close to competitive," the current prohibition is an implicit tax and passage could eventually lead to a free market for slots. Hansen argued against passage, noting that any government-run gambling is actually a hidden tax that's regressive and non-neutral.
With many states in fiscal crises, lawmakers are looking for new ways to raise revenue. Aside from any of your feelings on gambling itself, how do you, as someone on the center-right, feel about government-run gambling as a way to raise revenue? I look forward to the answers.