Regulate and Tax?


Dormant Account
Jun 16, 2005
I wish I could take credit for writing this, but it came from one of our Toronto newspapers.

You do not have permission to view link Log in or register now.

Given the public exposure of the cesspool known as the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, there will never be a better time than now to overhaul the massive legal gambling industry in this country.

It's time to change the system entirely, to get the government totally out of the bookmaking business. Put the industry now both the world's largest and fast-growing industry entirely into private hands. Legalize all forms of gambling, including Internet wagering, and let the governments simply tax the proceeds.

It will mean far more money into the public purse, in the long run, without putting incompetent and/or dishonest bureaucrats in charge of programs they do not understand.

It would stop the cheating of gamblers. Winners would get paid and not have their money stolen, whether by crooked ticket clerks or shady Internet operators operating out of the Caribbean or that heavily armed Indian reserve in Quebec, where billions of dollars in illegal Internet gambling is being operated while our feds nervously look the other way.

Here's the solution: First, legalize Internet gambling and register and tax the participants. Britain did it three years ago and reaped 1.4 billion in tax revenues the first year. Internet bookmakers would gladly go legal, advertise and pay taxes. Customers would be foolish to use non-licenced operators and companies would compete for our business, always a good thing for the consumer.

Next, we set up betting shops, like William Hill or Ladbrokes (and others) that operate all over the United Kingdom. You want to bet, you go to your local bet shop. You bet the football match, horse races, buy lottery tickets, play a slots machine, whatever you like. Winners get paid, losers yell at the television set.

The federal government needs to amend the criminal code to allow single-game betting on sports events, but that's easy; betting on hockey, baseball, etc. already is legal; the greedheads who run gambling in Ontario and other provinces simply make you bet games in a parlay. As smart gamblers know, the parlay is so ultimate a sucker bet that a bookmaker doesn't even charge you vigorish, also called juice, the standard 10 per cent premium to make a bet.

What's that, you say? There are no betting shops and it would be difficult to set up a network? Well, 10 years ago there were no cell phone stores and now there are thousands; 25 years ago there were almost no video rental places and now they're on every other corner. The world changes. It would be easy to phase in bet shops. A matter of months. Operators would line up to obtain franchises.

Look, we already restrict the places where we sell booze. We can easily similarly restrict places to make bets. There's no need to keep gambling in corner stores. We don't allow them to sell beer or wine (at least in Ontario), so why should we allow them to sell lottery tickets and scratch-off cards and the like?

The usual hand-wringers will be sputtering by now that increasing gambling only increases the number of problem gamblers. They have a point. (Booze and tobacco harm people, too, and we keep raking in tax profits.)

Our governments, which have become dependent on the financial fix that gambling revenue provides, long ago stopped hearing concerns about the sickness that affects a growing percentage of its customers. A few helpline stickers here and there provide our leaders the moral authority to continue to promote gambling to all levels of society, including children.

Which is another reason to get everything into the bet shops. Make the legal age 18 or 19 or whatever you want and keep all underage kids out. No more racks of scratch-off tickets confronting every 12-year-old when he goes to buy a candy bar. Let's grow up and make the public's gambling habit a controlled, regulated and taxed experience. Let's do it now.
The only slightly undermining aspect being its calssified under "sports". I guess that means Canadians can now add "Captain of the School Thunderstruck team" to their resume :)

Users who are viewing this thread

Meister Ratings