Governments are so addicted to gambling revenue they’re building new casinos to help pay for addiction programs.
Did you ever hear of someone having “uncommon sense”? Growing up, my mother used to say my father had uncommon sense. It didn’t mean that he was unintelligent – far from it. It just meant that his reasoning was far beyond the realm of normalcy. He could make a mundane task much more difficult than it needed to be by overthinking what should require minimal effort.
I believe many of today’s politicians are afflicted with uncommon sense. Instead of using logic to tackle a problem, they come at it from all angles, choosing a solution that, on the surface, seems absurd. Such is the case with several governments’ decision to expand their gambling markets in an effort to solve the problem of gambling addiction.
Sounds crazy right? To reduce problem gambling, we should open new casinos! That’s essentially what’s going on in places like Canada and the UK, where statistics show addiction is on the rise.
Understanding The Thought Process
As ridiculous as it sounds, politicians do have a line of reasoning. It’s not a straight line. You’ll need to pay close attention to follow it. But it does make some sense, in a ‘vicious cycle’ kind of way.
You see, governments have come to rely very heavily on gambling revenue. Decades ago, casinos and other betting activities were illegal in many countries. One by one, they figured out that gambling was an easy activity to derive taxes from. Hence the introduction of a national lottery in almost every country around the globe.
The more gambling activities that were legalized, the more money governments were able to wrangle up. They justified it by applying these tax dollars to things like public education systems and health care. But that led to…
An Inevitable Rise In Gambling Addiction
The more access people have to gambling, the higher the rate of addiction is going to be. There’s nothing mysterious about this. And it creates a bad situation for governments, with very few options to fix it.
On the one hand, they could turn around and outlaw gambling, but what good would that do? People would continue to gamble, and addiction would persist. They would do it on a black market, as they did for many years prior to legalization. At the same time, the government would loose out on millions of dollars worth of tax revenue.
The other solution – the one many countries are implementing – is to make the casinos, racetracks and sportsbooks foot the bill for problem gambling treatment and prevention programs. Canadian provinces have been doing this for years, and if you’ve noticed, they’ve been opening up new casinos every year, all across the country. Other nations are taking notice, and apparently applauding their efforts.
UK Bets On Gambling To Prevent Addiction
The UK’s Labour Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, is basing much of his political campaign on this theory. If elected, he vows to “finally confront problem gambling” by enforcing a new levy against gambling companies.
The UK already requires its casinos to pay a portion of their revenue to fund gambling addiction programs. But as Watson pointed out, the gambling industry generated £13 billion in 2016, yet only funneled £10 million of that into treatment. That’s less than 0.08%.
Maybe uncommon sense isn’t such a bad thing after all.