2017 | Week of September 11 | #1220
Some bad ideas just don’t go away—like expanding gambling in Wisconsin.
Simply put, state-sanctioned gambling always involves the state receiving money from the gambling. Thus it is always in the state’s interest to have more gambling so that revenues are increased and the state’s coffers are getting richer. This situation means for the state to win, its citizens must lose. Isn’t that quite perverse? It’s certainly not a benevolent system that encourages such a plan.
Even worse, we know the people most likely to gamble are the ones who can least afford to do so. That means the measly property-tax credit property owners get each year on their tax bill from the Lottery credit is actually made possible, largely anyway, by people who live in zip codes where poverty is commonplace and government welfare programs abound. Frankly, that makes my little property-tax credit seem almost immoral.
Wisconsin is currently involved in gambling two ways: through the casino compacts the state has with the Native American tribes and through the state Lottery.
Wisconsin citizens passed a constitutional amendment in 1993 prohibiting any form of gambling except bingo, raffles, pari-muituel on-track betting andthe current state-run lottery. Since the state doesn’t run the casinos, just profits from them, the casinos aren’t included in this.
However, online gambling is clearly not legal in Wisconsin. But that hasn’t stopped Republican lawmakers from trying to skirt that law. Last session Republican Representative Tyler Vorpagel introduced a bill that would supposedly legalize and regulate Daily Fantasy Sports. The bill died in committee for all kinds of good reasons—like it is a bad idea and unconstitutional. You might recognize this online gambling by the name of FanDuel and DraftKings, which advertise prolifically on professional sports teams’ websites.
Rep. Vorpagel continues to insist legalizing this online gambling is really a good idea and good for Wisconsin consumers. So he has recruited this session a Democrat, Rep. Cory Mason, to co-author with him and found a willing Senator in newly-elected Republican Dan Feyen, who filled out a questionnaire for Wisconsin Family Action PAC this past election cycle indicating he opposes legalizing and regulating Daily Fantasy Sports. I can’t wait to hear how the senator explains this.
Because online gambling is illegal in Wisconsin and a number of other states, the owners of this scheme are arguing this is a game of skill, not chance, and is therefore not gambling and is, of course, legal. If that’s not enough for you, just read the bill because the author of the bill has included language that says Daily Fantasy Sports is not gambling; it’s a game of skill. Well, there you have it. Presto! A state legislator has said it is so, therefore it is. Calling a dog a cat, does not make it true. Same holds true on this matter.
To date, ten state Attorneys General have opined that DFS is gambling, along with other experts in the area of gaming and gambling.
Not to be ignored is the reality that the state’s casino compacts with the Native American tribes indicate that if the state legalizes new gambling opportunities, then the tribes must be able to do the same. Thus, if DFS is legalized, expect the tribes to deem DFS gambling, which it is, and promptly sue the state for the right to also offer online gambling. The result being a virtual explosion of gambling in The Badger State—an explosion that is especially targeted at young people, the main target of DFS and any other online gambling.
While the bill purports to be about consumer protection, what’s really protected is the multi-million dollar industry and whatever money the state makes off the gambling. Ever heard of an industry wanting to regulate itself? Me neither.
Look, gambling is addictive; and opening up online gambling, such as DFS, will result in more problem gamblers, more gambler indebtedness, and more broken families. That right there makes it bad for Wisconsin. This is definitely a bad idea that needs to go away for good.
For Wisconsin Family Council, I’m Julaine Appling, reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.