Just as government is addicted to the revenues from taxes on tobacco product sales, government is addicted to its near-monopoly on gambling.
Government also likes to protect its monopoly. Yesterday, a poker club was raided in Indianapolis. Indy Star report.
I like to gamble. I play poker, and I like to go to Vegas to play video poker, blackjack, and did I mention poker? I never went to that club, though I have poker buddies who have. They reported that the operation was a bit shady, and that sore losers often looked to recoup their losses in the parking lot. So, I steered clear of that one. Illegal operations have a way of attracting a bad element- one willing to take criminal risks.
But I think it is worth comparing reputable gambling operations, such as those in Vegas, with government gambling operations such as the Hoosier Lottery.
When I go to Vegas and play video poker, the payback on most machines average 90-95%. That means that on average, if you put $100 into the machine, you'll get $90-95 back. Some are even higher. Some pay out better than 100%! These are usually high roller machines, or in places trying to draw players. Here's a link to a published chart of Las Vegas slots payouts.
See, Vegas wants you to know that you can play for a good while on your money. The see to it that their numbers are published and distributed to the travel and gambling magazines. The Hoosier Lottery never advertises their payout on their radio and TV ads- for good reason.
The Hoosier Lottery's payout is 60%. Link to their distribution webpage for 2006. That's pretty rotten compared to Vegas, but then Vegas is the place where gaming operators face the most intense competition in the world. They have to payout. The Hoosier Lottery? Well, their competition often gets shut down in a raid.
Actually, I'm a bit surprised that the payout is as high as 60%. I suppose it is because Indiana has the riverboat casinos at the state lines- Blue Chip in Michigan City; Argosy and Caesar's on the Ohio River, among others. There is some competition, but no comparable competition in Marion County. OK, there's an off-track pari-mutuel house for horse racing, but poker? Hence, poker rooms and peashakes spring up.
Say! Why hasn't some Marion County Democrat stepped forward to announce that a poker room really doesn't harm anyone? Hmm.