Monday, November 25, 2013

Taking Greed to a New Level: The Oregon State Lottery

MaxRedline has a first rate post up on the Oregon Lottery. He traces the development from focus on betting as entertainment to betting targeting people addicted to gambling.
When voters passed a measure allowing Oregon Lottery, the only items under discussion were scratch-off tickets, with proceeds to be used for "economic development". But the door was now opened, and as government agencies generally do, the Lottery Commission expanded. They introduced Keno, and then video poker. Even so, the stakes were relatively low, perhaps $5 for Keno, and the same for video poker. And then they expanded video poker: suddenly, the machines were able to accept bills from $1 to $10, and then to $20. But of course, slots were completely out of the question, as the approved measure specifically banned "casino"-type games.

Evidently, the Agency found a way around that, even as they further modified their machines to accept $100 bills. And of course, the money now goes to almost anything except economic development; tv ads show "restored" steams and habitat, done with Lottery money. It's become a giant piggy-bank, and the state's grown utterly dependent upon the money stream generated by a small group of videogame campers, pouring money in just for the high.
The result is ruined lives and a state community now dependent on feeding people's vices in order to pay for lots of different public programs. Max:
Marriages are ruined, lives are destroyed; destitute, some people become suicidal, yet the Oregon Lottery works very diligently toward a goal of ever-increasing cash extraction. What at first seemed fairly innocuous, and perhaps even helpful, has morphed into something that is so perverse that the sole justification for its continued existence is the desire of politicians to build monuments to themselves. And ya can't do that without money.
Public greed is not that much different than private greed. Except that it can affect a much bigger public at a much deeper level with no prospect of the community stepping in to stop the personal destruction.

Kudos to the Oregonian and Harry Esteve for doing real shoe-leather reporting on this and publishing the incriminating results for current Oregon state policy.


MAX Redline said...

Esteve has done a really good job of digging into this (kind of surprising for The Oregonian), and it was particularly interesting to see the departing head of state Lottery defending what they do despite the findings.

Glad you liked my little contribution, though, and thanks. I felt like I should add the historical part because that was missing from Esteve's otherwise exellent report.

T. D. said...

Also, Max, you made the history an integral part of the growth to more and more state greed. Those changes are another clear sign that the state does not care that its policies are ruining individuals' lives, hurting or destroying their families, and fanning a the growth of a sickness that deeply impacts the whole community.

Hope you are having a happy Thanksgiving!

MAX Redline said...

Thanks TD - hope yours was, too. I brined the turkey for 12 hours in an ice chest with a sack of ice on top of the bird to keep it from climbing out. Worth every minute!

T. D. said...

Mmmm! Sounds good. We just used a standard turkey with pop out thermometer. We're enjoying the leftovers and turkey soup right now.