April 29, 2004

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if the state won the lottery? Okay, so it already does win the lottery, as the game is simply a voluntary tax for those folks who choose to purchase tickets on a regular basis.

It is obvious that residents of the state simply will not support higher taxes. So, it appears government is turning to other windfalls to try to find the money. They struck it rich with the tobacco settlement money in past years, but that well is running dry and the lawmakers are scrounging for other quick fixes for funding.

So maybe winning the lottery is not that far fetched an idea. Missouri is still looking for the jackpot payoff to help cure some of its economic woes. How else could you explain the governorís plans to revive the stateís declining revenue via proceeds from the gambling industry?

The legislature is considering raising taxes on casino income once it passes the $20 million mark. To help the gambling sites reach these higher profits, the state is also considering revoking the current loss limits. Under existing law, gamblers may not buy more than $500 in chips in any two-hour period.

It seems like a crap shoot to me. We will allow people to lose more money gambling so that the state can make more tax revenue. But how many people can really afford to lose more money gambling?

The bulk of us that go to the riverboat or to the casino, travel to the site as a form of entertainment, similar to seeing a movie or going to a ball game. We donít care to have the chance to lose more than $500. Are there really enough big-time gamblers out there to bankroll this crazy idea to cure the stateís revenue problems? Sounds like a long shot to me.

Maybe the state should just do like the guy from London did last month. He liquidated all of his assets, going as far as selling his clothes. He then went to Las Vegas and let it all ride on the roulette wheel. He was lucky as his color won and he doubled his money in one blink of the eye.

If we are going to make higher taxes on gambling our fiscal savior, why not go all the way and put our money on the line. Shoot, we waste lots of tax dollars in other manors, why not at least give us the chance to win with some of this money so that we will have enough tax dollars to fund education, health care and transportation.

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