Sunday, December 26, 2010

Tumbling vice: smoking ban cutting into video lottery play, too

Ban changing bar culture in S.D. | | Argus Leader

Anybody know of a state that has junked public gambling after allowing it? SD isn't anywhere near getting rid of video gambling, but lo and behold a recently enacted smoking ban is reducing the time people spend at the machines.

For the record, I would rather pay a clearly stated income or property tax than depend upon state-sponsored gambling or "sin taxes' to fund public services. Yes, these gadgets probably keep my taxes lower. But they also exploit people at points of weakness and smack of hypocrisy: we say we don't want people smoking or gambling but then budget public revenue expectaions from those behaviors.


Scott Adam said...

I do not like "budgeting" sin taxes, but the consequences of the tax can be beneficial. Slowing the growth of smoking, for instance, or reducing gambling. If the state would accept the taxes as a budgeyary windfall, to be used for whatever might benefit us most, probably better education or scholarships in targeted areas such as science, maths, etc. this could be a useful tool.

TLF+ said...

Scott - that's a good point about behavior modification, although in this case the gambling impact was an unintended benefit.

Banning sins has a sorry history, of course. So perhaps you are right that the sting of added cost is the pragmatic choice between shrugging our shoulders on the one hand and attempting to ban behaviors on the other.