This posting by our friends at the Howard Center on state lottos is just another example of why I think democracy in this country is somewhat broke: if citizens were given full-disclosure about a deal to sell off the Illinois State Lottery for $10 billion up front to a "private investors" (who are these people?) who can run the Public Slot Machine for the next 75 years, what would they say?
I'm not so sure, but I smell rats anyway. I've seen enough of this food chain to make me suspicious: two crooked brothers running illegal gambling in my old precinct/ward so openly that patrons at the local barber shop would talk about the Leader Brother thugs and their cash stash in the Cayman Islands; the Leader Brothers slum-bar at the corner (I had to go in there once to make phone call my shoes kept sticking to floor as I walked in the black hole) and the junkies (needles in the parking lot, anyone?) somehow this bar just couldn't be closed down by the City for years and years and years despite occasional violations of code and citizen petition drives; trucks parked in the parking lot at night with "video games" shuffled around to various stores, sometimes in the middle of the night; finally, someone was shot dead in that parking lot and a little later it finally closed down--though by that time one Leader brother was dead and the other had been in prison for something else and pushing 80; within a few blocks of this (same ward, same political oversight) I suspect (but can't prove, mind you) plenty of under the table money from contractors who, oops, built 4- and 5-story condominiums before they realized that zoning allowed only 3-stories (and then built some more, though citizens were verbally reassured the City was "on it"--more likely "in on it"); the son-in-law of our city alderman who overlooked our ward lived just a few blocks away from all this neighborhood gentrification and is now the Governor of the State of Illinois. And just looking to get some cash from some "private investors" for sake of the citizens of Illinois. No thanks.
Finally, now that I've gotten that off my chest, the Howard Center posting notes that:
When initially adopted by various states, lotteries were sold as harmless mechanisms to increase state revenue without raising taxes. Why the public fell for the gamble remains a puzzle, but a study by two political scientists at the University of Maryland exposes the emptiness of that pitch by documenting how lotteries are major generators of income inequality.
The posting goes into more details about this. The lottos were also supposed to help education. I'm still waiting. We need some casino boats on Chicago's lakefront, too. Gambling is good for people. Good for little children. Good for poor people. Someone recently told me that you can now get a college degree in gaming. (True?) Next up? Master of Porn? Doctor of Prostitution?