Oh, I don't claim to be no gambler people
Oh, I don't know much about the dice
--Gambler's Blues, B.B. King
Here's a lovely bit of hypocrisy from the Sunshine State.
It concerns absconding with people's hard-earned money, writ small. These are not Wall Street deals, but they are transacted every week at your local grocery or convenience store. The big tabs ($50 and up) occur on paydays. This is how you fleece the lambs -- the lottery, or, the poor tax.
The Florida Lottery's Homepage is like a blaring, flickering Pachinko machine. The Lottery Department's annual report shows total assets at the end of fiscal year 2007 of $2.8 B (down from over $3 billion the previous year.)
To counter addictions to such losing propositions is the Florida Counsel on Compulsive Gambling. The counsel makes do with donations and a $1 million budget from the state appropriated from Lotto earnings. That's roughly .ooo3% of the Lotto's annual take.
There are those who argue that people should be allowed to be as stupid as they want to be. But in the current atmosphere of astronomical bailouts going to those who knew better but did not act better, one wonders how much aid should also be sequestered for those who will never be in that league but nonetheless pay a disproportionate amount of their income in this poor tax.
Lotto's advertising budget wasn't clearly available on their annual report, but we'll wager it's a damn sight more than the pittance given to the gambling help association. Governor Charlie Crist has proclaimed the second week of March as Problem Gambling Awareness Week within the State of Florida.
What more could he possibly do?