What is it about gambling that makes governments unhappy?

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Two stories on gambling today.
Out of South Carolina:

In Mount Pleasant, SC, on April 12th, local law enforcement raided a home game between twenty two players in a private home. They issued citations to those that were involved in the game, but perhaps what was more criminal was the seizure of over $6,000 from the participants in the game.

According to published reports, police entered the home with guns drawn and their identities obscured by ski masks. They swept through the house and, once completing their raid, were actually fairly nice to the participants, despite their appearance. Players contended that the game was a small tournament with a $20 buy in that didn’t require such a display of police presence, but the law thought differently. They characterized the game as a high-stakes, casino-style poker parlor that advertised games over the Internet and attracted people from all over the South Carolina area.

Guns drawn? Money seizures? I guess it’s a crime to have fun with one’s own money in a private residence. Imagine that! People having the audacity, the temerity, to attract people from all over the South Carolina area!

In related news, Iowa’s ban on TouchPlay machines begins today. Pubs, bars, supermarkets and convenience stores will have to disable the machines by 11:59pm tonight. The state will now be $45 million short in taxes.

So which is it? On the one hand, the government does not seem to want anyone to gamble without a permit, so in a way they’re “losing” money that way. On the other hand, the state of Iowa could “lose” tax revenue by prohibiting gambling.

It’s almost amusing to follow these stories and see what the politicians say. They’re probably thinking something like “You know, I’m supposed to protect the children from the evils of gambling, but that extra tax money would allow me to build a nice swimming pool in my district. Oh what to do, what to do.” Is there a greater battle than paternalism vs pork barrel?

10:49 am on May 3, 2006