By Ron Harris
OK, South Carolina, my adopted state, my retirement haven – you’re beginning to make me mad!
Since relocating here some nine years ago, I’ve adapted to your normally splendid (thus often boring) weather, your wealth of activities (especially golf and eating) and your friendly, optimistic and usually as-fiscally-conservative-as-me natives.
But your Supreme Court’s decision the other day maintaining that organized poker games are illegal, even in a private home between friends, is beyond the pale. What’s next – outlawing Nassaus in golf? Pulling the plug on point-spreads and friendly bets on football games? Arresting Granny as she exits the bingo parlor? Closing all the senior citizen centers because you’re “shocked, just shocked” that games of chance and skill are going on in them?
Or how about banning the State Education Lottery? Lotteries, after all the excuses and hype, are still another form of gambling.
Ridding the state of that lottery, which would be based on the court’s reasoning of games of chance/skill, should be a logical next step. Surely those in the state who believe that gambling is corrupting and detrimental to the common good and social welfare would agree that all forms of gambling should be eliminated in order to cleanse our wretched souls.
And, according to the website of the South Carolina Education Lottery, for fiscal year ending June 30, only 26.4 percent of every dollar earned was transferred to the Education Lottery Account for the S.C. General Assembly to appropriate for support of education programs in South Carolina.
Only about a quarter of every dollar is earmarked for education from the millions in lottery revenue?
I’m quite cognizant of the moral and social arguments made against gambling; they haven’t changed much in the past 200 years in America. But the states’ populations and their attendant problems have. Many states have overridden those arguments out of necessity, legalizing various forms of gambling, including casinos, to provide sorely needed tax revenue for states’ coffers. I know the presence of casinos and an influx of patrons for them creates many social problems, but they could be offset to some degree by the tax revenue from legalized gambling, earmarking it for education and infrastructure and security, etc.
Could a friendly poker game in a South Carolinian’s home be the seed for an eventual crop of casinos “blighting” the state? Doubtful.
Will that poker game now be subject to raids by SWAT teams, i.e. “Put down that royal flush, sinner and scofflaw, and back away from the poker table!”
That’s ridiculous, imply some S.C. legislators and the court.
Well, you started it, solons and justices. Now you’re tasked with overseeing the enforcement of a ridiculous law that is also hypocritical and an invasion of privacy. And consider this – how many S.C. police and firemen do you think are going to give up playing poker in their lodge halls and firehouses, not to mention their private homes?
What else is forthcoming for them – a prohibition on doughnuts and dominoes?