The good news is that Johnston County District Attorney Susan Doyle is moving to enforce a law that no one else was willing to enforce. But that might be good only in the sense that a state ought not have laws it’s unwilling to enforce.
The bad news is that shuttering sweepstakes parlors in Johnston County and elsewhere will preserve the state’s pernicious monopoly on gambling in North Carolina. OK, it’s not technically a monopoly, but the casino in Cherokee is a long way from most North Carolinians.
We’re no fans of gambling, because the odds never favor the gambler, and we find North Carolina’s state-run lottery especially unsavory because it’s a tax on poor people. We simply don’t think the state ought to be paying for schools and other services on the backs of poor people.
Still, we’re libertarian enough to believe that people ought to be able to gamble if they want to. But we don’t know why the state has a monopoly on the games and the revenue from those games.
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If we had our libertarian druthers, North Carolina would allow every form of gambling imaginable – casinos, sweepstakes and bingo parlors, pari-mutuel betting; consumers would decide which ones survived and which ones failed. And then governments – state, county and towns – would take their share of the revenue in fees and taxes.
As it is, the state controls the games and the revenue, which is supposed to help North Carolina schools but doesn’t always because state lawmakers are withholding much of the money to pay other bills. Johnston County commissioners continue to lobby the county’s legislative delegation to give Johnston the lottery money it’s due, as well they should. But commissioners would need no lobbying if they could levy fees and taxes on gambling operations doing business legally in Johnston County. Alas, North Carolina seems intent on maintaining its gambling monopoly.
Come to think of it, this is one time we wish the district attorney had not done her job.