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Take a Chance in New York

by on August 11, 2011

Living in New York is no gamble: the chances of getting hosed by the taxman to pay regulators to hose you again stand at 100 percent. But at least Empire State residents might not have to cross state lines to place riskier wagers. The possible loosening of rules regarding betting might be another reason to not take a permanent trip out of town.

The governor seems resigned to allowing us the right to double down. His willingness to potentially let us have fun in one more way serves as a pleasant development. Still, it would be nice if he came up with a better reason than conceding that the state is powerless to stop it:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated today that his office is exploring whether the state should allow for full-fledged, non-Indian casinos in New York, saying the state has to come to “grips” with the fact that gambling already exists in the state.

Does he know about my Super Bowl score grid game? The jig is up. Right now, those whose ancestors used all the buffalo’s parts are some of the only ones allowed to run high-stakes Go Fish tables:

The state has so-called Class III casinos on Native American land in parts of upstate, but commercial casinos are barred. The state has eight racetracks with Class II facilities, which include video-lottery terminals and electronic table games.

The tracks, especially with a gaming hall set to open at Aqueduct Race Track in Queens later this year, are eager to have the law changed to allow them to add regular table games, such as blackjack, roulette and poker.

There would finally be a reason to patronize a horse track other than “the power’s out.” That said, people wanting to do something is not necessarily the best reason to make it legal; for one, same-sex marriage shouldn’t be legal just because a percentage of people want to participate. But Kid Cuomo seems willing to allow married gay couples along with everyone else to be able to practice their chance game of choice:

Cuomo argued that casino gambling is already essentially going on in New York.

“It’s really not an issue anymore of, well if we don’t officially sanction it as a government it’s not going to happen. It is happening,” Cuomo said.

What’s both frustrating and unsurprising is that private enterprises can’t already charge suckers to play roulette in New York State. This state’s attempt to shield people from realizing that gambling is fun has been as successful as its efforts to keep people from moving to North Carolina.

Betting rarely increases the thickness of one’s wallet. Barack Obama is more likely to lead America to a credit upgrade than you are to get rich in a gambling parlor. Statistics dictate that you’re probably going to blow your casino trip money, not double it; those fancy casino carpets don’t get cleaned for free.

But you’re paying to have a good time. Other entertainment forms can be similarly pricey, not to mention that they usually don’t present the opportunity to break even or even finish ahead in relatively rare circumstances.

Someone could pass free time by paying several hundred dollars to see, say, a Bills game. In such a case, the ticket purchaser has zero chance of getting some of the money back and only slightly higher odds of seeing the woeful franchise win.

By contrast, blackjack offers players the opportunity to come out ahead if they possess a little skill and a lot of luck. It’s an enjoyable investment of disposable income without having to see the Patriots rack up five touchdowns against one’s team.

It’s a lock that neon signs advertising games of chance would attract people from outside the state to spend money. Loosening casino rules would function as an adrenaline shot for perpetually struggling upstate cities.

But the broader issue remains the right to bet. It’s more important to permit buyers and sellers to interact on mutually voluntary terms, even if the product in question is gaming chips.

We should be free to waste our money as we wish, especially given the financial track record of the government that continues to prohibit us from doing so. Even busted dupes begging for a comped breakfast know that it’s wiser to flush money down a slot machine than send it to Albany.

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