You Think They Were Setting Up a Monopoly, or Something…

“Even as Governor Deval Patrick seeks to license three resort casinos in Massachusetts, he hopes to clamp down on the explosion in Internet gambling by making it illegal for state residents to place a bet on line. He has proposed jail terms of up to two years and $25,000 fines for violators.”” – link via Slashdot

It would almost be shocking to point out that the ban on online gambling was buried deep in a bill that would permit 3 brick-and-mortar casinos to be operated in Mass. But this is government we’re talking about so no amount of irony can rise to the level of shocking.

Actually what I do find myself shocked about is that I am in agreement with Rep. Barney Frank on this one.

On a related note, in California right now there are high rotation television commercials running from the San Manuel Indian Tribes promoting the virtues of casinos. I find these commercials so massively distasteful that it’s hard to find the words to describe how I really feel. Actually, maybe it was the San Miguel Tribes, I kinda turn off when they come on…

Why is it that it’s “Indian gaming” when it comes to casinos but “native American” in all other matters? Is it because a small group of hucksters know that playing up to American national guilt is a quicker way to get more slot machines licensed? As it relates to the San Manuel tribe, no amount of commercial time playing up the seeing eye dog that Aunt Mary has because of the shiny new slot machines in Agua Caliente will obscure the fact that these groups are now the largest political donors in California.

I accept the fact that these casinos are operating within a unique loophole that permits their existence, and that government and the tribes have come to an evolving set of terms about how they operate, but don’t try to tell me casinos are good for the community.

Casinos of all kinds are parasitic to society, there is zero economic value creation as a consequence of building or creating, just taking. I’m not an advocate for regulating them out of existence, if people want to gamble them let them I say, but I’m clear on the fact that casinos, online or otherwise, do nothing for a culture or a society.

Paid vs. Free vs. Someone Else Pays

Whenever debates flair up about the merits of free content versus premium subscription content, well someone has to throw up the Wall St. Journal’s online efforts. I heard this over and over when I first argued that TimesSelect was a stupid idea, and whenever TimesSelect was debated, the WSJ came up.

Partly because the web is so thoroughly lacking in paid subscription sites (of the non-niche publication variety, like science publications) but also because the WSJ has a legitimate success in their online portal. With 10 million users generating $50 million in annual revenue for the WSJ it’s hard to argue it’s not a success.

But it’s hard to argue that paid subscription models work when the WSJ is the only mainstream publication successful at it, and more to the point, even they are seeing a greater economic opportunity by making it all free.

“News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said Tuesday he intends to make access to The Wall Street Journal’s Web site free, dropping subscription fees in exchange for anticipated ad revenue.”

Marines vs. MADD

 

“A dispute currently pits the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, California, against MADD. The Corps wants Marines serving under the age of 21 to have the right to consume alcoholic beverages. MADD is steadfastly opposed, and is spear-heading efforts to block the Corps from accomplishing this feat.”

I am going with the Marines in this firefight… when we take an 18 year old and send him/her through basic training and then to a far away country to kill the enemy and help the repressed, he/she has surely earned the privilege to consume alcohol.

Organizations like MADD start out with a noble purpose but become corrupted as they become integrated with government. In terms of organizational integrity, I’ll take the Marines over MADD any day.

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