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FROZEN MARGARITA IRISH COFFEE 9 AM UNTIL MIDNIGHT HOT DOGS HAMBURGERS STEAKS CHICKEN RESTAURANT 511 RIVERWALK ACROSS FROM KANGAROO COURT SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS 225-4098 BEHIND THE TARPON INN PORT ARANSAS OPEN DAILY 477-3651 .,\\.h and Associates E 2306 Lake Austin Blvd. Austin, Texas 78703 REALTOR Representing all types of properties in Austin and Central Texas Interesting & unusual property a specialty . 8 MARCH 8, 1985 Austin THE FEBRUARY 8 Texas Observer cover story, “The Lottery: Morality and Political Life,” hinted at but failed to address the real subject of debate on the gambling issue. That subject is not, as suggested in the closing section, an argument between Puritanism and individual behavior. Rather the issue is the morality of the state. When we assume that the real issue is the infringement of individual liberty, then opponents of state-sponsored gambling appear Puritanical. And when the churches oppose this legislation, it looks like just another attempt to legislate morality, which everyone knows cannot be done. What is overlooked not only in the Observer article, which was actually a fairly balanced treatment of the subject, but in most discussions of gambling bills is that the proposals before the legislature are not about individual morality, pro or con. In all the bills before the legislature, the state is not being asked to allow gambling to take place. Everyone even the Baptists knows that people right here in Texas already gamble. And we are not being asked to allow horses to race. That also takes place. And some of the gambling that is going on is going on at those horse races. The state is not being asked to function with benign neglect and let people do something they cannot now do. The state is being asked to sanction, to sponsor, and to promote gambling enterprises. Because of the immense difficulty in policing gambling activities, the states have always found it necessary to be an active partner in race tracks and the sole sponsor of lotteries in order to keep them as clean as possible. \(Nonetheless, the record of corruption in these enterprises demonstrates that the partnership is more likely to taint the In order for state-sponsored gambling Linda B. Team is the Executive Director of Texas Impact and the Associate Director of the Texas Conference of Churches. enterprises to generate revenues, they must be heavily advertised. The state must push gambling, create a market for it, and generate in the people a desire to participate. \(That is . why illegal gambling increases along with legalized gambling. The market is created and the bookies, who take bets on credit, on the phone, and without reporting winnings to the IRS, then move in to capitalize declining all across the country, some states have had to spend larger and larger percentages of their gross receipts on advertising, just to stay in business. The inevitable result is that when the state enters into the gambling industry it loses moral stature. How can the state urge its citizens to work hard, plan for the future and be financially responsible when it is advertising get-rich-quick by taking a chance on the ponies or the lottery? Where is the integrity of the state when it is in a business which only prospers when its people lose? How can the state claim to act on behalf of the common good when it exploits its own citizens? Statistical studies have shown over and over that the benefits of statesponsored gambling go to a narrow sector of people who are already prosperous, and that the cost bears heavily upon the poor. The lottery is two to three times as regressive as the sales tax. In Maryland, welfare rights organizations have campaigned to get low-income people to boycott the lottery, urging them not to be “lottery slaves.” One supporter of gambling has said that the poor are poor and not stupid and that we should not intervene to protect them. Yet we do that on every hand and we not only protect the poor, but you and me as well. Our system of consumer protection law is designed to protect us from shoddy merchandise, unfair lending practices and hucksters who promise us something for nothing. It is the proper role of the state to protect its citizens from exploitation, not to lead them with all the power of advertising to risk their resources on a virtually impossible chance of winning big. The State as Moral Agent By Linda B. Team