09 Jan 2010

Legalizing Poker and Blackjack Today, Marijuana Tomorrow?

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CNBC reports:

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania legalized poker, blackjack and other table games at slots casinos Thursday, upping the ante in the increasingly fierce competition among states for gamblers’ money.

It may be more than six months before the first cards are dealt, but millions in license fees are expected to begin pouring into the state treasury much sooner.

The table games bill was a critical component of the October deal that ended Pennsylvania’s 101-day budget stalemate, and came about largely because other means of raising tax revenues proved politically unpalatable.

The new law is the latest attempt by recession-slammed state governments to fill budgetary holes with gambling revenue.

Indiana is considering allowing riverboat casinos on Lake Michigan and the Ohio River. In November, Ohio voters passed a ballot measure to put casinos in four cities. Kentucky’s governor wants slots or table games at racetracks and Chicago plans a new casino.

Closer to Pennsylvania, Delaware recently began allowing parlay betting on sports at its racetrack casinos, and a new report says it may have to add two casinos to keep pace with neighboring states.

Last month, voters approved table games for a horse track in Charles Town, W.Va.

And Maryland voters have approved up to 15,000 slot machines in five areas, although progress on implementing gambling there has so far been slow.

“I see it as a border war more than a national picture,” said University of Nevada-Las Vegas professor Bill Thompson, an expert on the gambling industry. “It is the gambling war of today — three years from now it might be something else.”

I wonder what that could be? Hmm what if people are really really mad in about 3 years, the economy is still awful, states are all up to their eyeballs in deficits, and young people–for whom the unemployment rate might be 50% or higher in some demographics–are getting ready to riot?

Is there some way the people in charge could get everyone to chill out?

I’m drawing a blank.

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