Monday, February 18, 2008

Mississippi Lottery: Revisited

It would be great if lawmakers spent their time trying to think of good ideas to make into good laws, but that's not how it works in the real world.

Usually it's somebody from the outside coming up with the ideas for new laws (beneficial to their interests) and then lobbying the legislature to pass them. More often than not, there's money involved.

That's what I thought of when I heard there was a new bill going around the capitol to initiate a state lottery in Mississippi: who's behind it?

These state lottery bills come up in Mississippi from time to time and so far, conservative Mississippi has always turned them down. Usually, like the current bill, they promise oodles of free money for education. I'm all for that, but it's not the education lobby pushing these bills. Not by themselves.

I'm all for people who enjoy gambling too. I figure, it's their money, they can do with it what they want -- but there's not a collective of recreational gamblers pushing these bills either.

Follow the money. Who makes money if the state of Mississippi runs a lottery? It turns out, managing these lotteries is a multi-billion dollar business. Even though they only take a small percentage of the lottery's grossreceipts, you're still talking about an awful lot of money.

Like everybody else, businesses have a right to lobby for their own best interests -- but there's just something creepy about this.

Some big out-of-state gambling business wants to expand their market to Mississippi and they're holding money for education out as an inducement. We all know how that goes. We pass laws to benefit education, but somewhere along the way, the money ends up going somewhere else.

Mississippi is already in bed with these outside gaming companies in a pretty big way with dockside gambling and it hasn't been all together a bad thing. You don't want to give in to these people too much though. After a while it starts to feel like they're the pimp and we're their bitch and that's why I'm against a state lottery in Mississippi.

Official Ted Lasso