State-endorsed gambling taxes the poor | Information, Sports activities, Jobs

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Once again, the issue of legalizing sports betting is popping up in the Minnesota Legislature. Democratic Sen. Karla Bigham, of Cottage Grove, and Republican Rep. Pat Garofalo, of Farmington, are proposing a bill that would allow on-site sports wagering at tribal casinos for the first year, then mobile betting for those who sign up for an account at a casino. Revenue from a state tax on the action would go into the state’s general fund, with about 0.5% going to compulsive gambling assistance programs.

Really? Does the state legislature need to debate that at this time? Don’t COVD-19 relief and a $1.2 billion state budget deficit fill up the agenda?

Bigham and Garofolo say the money that would come to the state is one good thing, but the real winner would be the gamblers who are already betting on sports through off-shore sites or illegal underground operations. The state needs to protect them by controlling and regulating the business, the authors say. It’s the same argument used by those proposing legalized marijuana. Let’s make it legal, force out the bad guys and make a few dollars while we’re at it.

There are others who point to the 25 or so states that already have legalized sports betting in some form. If they can do it, why can’t we? It’s the old “All the other kids have cell phones (or torn jeans, or their own car) – why can’t I?” argument.

Because it’s bad for you, kid. You’ll shoot your eye out, figuratively speaking, or at least gamble away your rent money or your kids’ college fund.

Our objection to expanding gambling to sports betting is the same as the one we stated when Minnesota started the Minnesota Lottery. State-endorsed gambling is a tricked-up tax on the lower-income people of the state. They are the ones most susceptible to the allure of the get-rich-quick inducement – win the lottery and watch your troubles melt away! And they are the ones who can least afford to lose the money they may spend on gambling. It’s a tawdry way to part poor people from their money.

Do we really need it that bad?

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