Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Gambling is Illegal (wink, wink)

From the files of our intrepid vice police comes this story about Baltimore Ravens fullback Corey Fuller. His house in Tallahassee, Florida was raided by 20 – TWENTY – law enforcement officers on Tuesday night. Was he hiding stolen goods? Peddling crack? Storing bodies in his crawlspace? Nope. What was this obvious threat to society doing? Well, he was playing poker with his friends. And for this horrible crime against humanity, he now faces up to 5 years in prison and a $5000 fine.

Color me pissed, and not just because I participate in weekly poker games of this sort (though presumably for lower limits). Under Florida state law, you are allowed to gamble up to 10 dollars on a hand of cards. Other states have similar laws with varying limits and regulations on what you can and can’t do. I think it’s obviously time for the Florida police to have their budget cut and to lay off a whole lot of officers, if they are so bored that this is what they spend their time doing, preventing friends from getting together and having fun without any harm to anyone else.

It’s time to end this hypocrisy that gambling is illegal. It’s bullshit and everyone knows it. In my state, we have 19 casinos that operate legally. We have numerous horse racing tracks with legal betting. The state government runs a dozen different types of lotteries. Even the churches get into the act, with charity Vegas nights and weekly bingo games. But I can’t get together with my buddies and play a friendly poker game without the threat of a bunch of jackbooted thugs in police uniforms busting into my house.

So what’s the difference between our poker games and the casinos and lotteries and horse racing? The government doesn’t get a cut, that’s the difference. It’s all about the government inserting itself, and shaking us down financially, in every conceivable area of our lives. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Sure, as long as they get their cut of the action. Next we’ll be hearing about them raiding a 9 year old’s lemonade stand to make sure their payroll taxes are up to date, or demanding that we file I-9 documents before we hire the neighbor kid to cut our lawn for $15. And the incredible thing to me is that Americans take it lying down, without a fuss.

It’s time we got the government out of the business of regulating consensual and victimless crimes. All it does is corrupt our law enforcement institutions and cost us untold billions of dollars to imprison those who should not be imprisoned, destroying families in the process. The government’s purpose for existing is to protect us from one another, not to stamp out the possibility of having fun. I’ve had it up to my eyelids with a government that thinks it’s our nanny and not our servant.

Comments

  1. #1 eon
    April 22, 2004

    ED:

    There’s actually an old case in NY holding that winning a free play on a pinball machine constitutes gambling for the purposes of the state liquor law.

    EON

  2. #2 flatlander100
    April 22, 2004

    Yeah, well, after clicking on the link [for which thanks] and reading the original story, it seems the matter is not quite as your summary presented it. Running “high stakes” poker games in his house “twice a week” with “thousands on the table” and there having been a shooting on the grounds a week or so before changes matters a bit. In light of the full background, especially the shooting, the actions of the police and the size of the raiding party does not seem nearly so egregiously over the top.
    The State of Florida is free to decide if it wants to permit private gambling for substantial sums in private homes or not. It is free to license casino gambling if it wishes, or poker parlors, or to have no gambling regulations at all. And you can certainly argue the unwisdom of overly restrictive laws on private gambling. But a state’s refusal to sanction regular [twice a week] high stakes gambling at a private home, does not seem to me, on its face to be an unreasonable excercise of legislative judgement.
    Of course, if you want truly bizzare examples of gambling legislation, shift your view west across the gulf to the Gret Stet of Loooziana, whose Constitution flatly bans gambling, by name. But you ask [oh, go ahead, ask] how can that be, for Louisiana does seem to have casinos… many many casinos…in numerous of its cities, right there in front of God and everybody.
    And well you should ask. The state requested for an advisory opinion from the La Supreme Court before it authorized the casinos, and the worthies on the court ruled that all those casinos were not going to house gambling for that would be illegal under the La Constitution. No, they were going to house and conduct “gaming” which of course was not banned by the Louisiana constitution. Only gambling was.
    No. I am NOT making this up.

  3. #3 Ed Brayton
    April 22, 2004

    Yeah, well, after clicking on the link [for which thanks] and reading the original story, it seems the matter is not quite as your summary presented it. Running “high stakes” poker games in his house “twice a week” with “thousands on the table” and there having been a shooting on the grounds a week or so before changes matters a bit. In light of the full background, especially the shooting, the actions of the police and the size of the raiding party does not seem nearly so egregiously over the top.

    I don’t see what difference the stakes make. My buddies and I play for a couple hundred dollars each. Pro football players, who make millions, gamble for higher stakes. They can afford it. I don’t think the stakes make any difference. As far as the shooting goes, it was 3 months prior to this raid, and one has nothing to do with the other. If they were serving a warrant on the shooting, that would be one thing. But they arrested him solely for playing poker with his buddies. It’s that law that I say is both hypocritical and unjust.

    The State of Florida is free to decide if it wants to permit private gambling for substantial sums in private homes or not. It is free to license casino gambling if it wishes, or poker parlors, or to have no gambling regulations at all. And you can certainly argue the unwisdom of overly restrictive laws on private gambling. But a state’s refusal to sanction regular [twice a week] high stakes gambling at a private home, does not seem to me, on its face to be an unreasonable excercise of legislative judgement.

    I think any legislative judgment that violates a person’s right to privacy without a very compelling reason is an unjust law. It is not the government’s job to stamp out what they perceive as vice, it is their job to protect us from being harmed against our will.

  4. #4 Lynnie
    April 23, 2004

    It’s almost 8 PM and the card game is starting, I will close the blinds and lock the doors now.
    (Big Bad Ed “the gambler” is going to win tonight) LOL

  5. #5 Ed Brayton
    April 24, 2004

    Well, “Big Bad Ed” had an off night last night. Lost about $40. But I was due, the last 3 weeks I’m up about $300, which isn’t bad for a little game like ours. And we had a ringer in the game last night who thinks he’s a hotshot poker player, a guy who runs his own poker room, who lost at least $250. He had Kevin to his left, who took about 15 minutes to figure out this guy’s patterns and proceeded to win about $200, mostly from him, by coming over the top of his raises over and over again. Meanwhile, I just treaded water all night, winning a pot here and there to keep me going but folding 9 out of 10 hands. Just one of those nights. But $40 is a night’s entertainment, and it’s always fun with this group of guys.