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'It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.' - 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln
Well, I don't know about that, but it sounds good.
Bill Maher remarked that marijuana is one of the only vices where we base public policy on the worst segment of the population. Online gambling is another. Sure, online gambling will have some addicts. But it already does, and those addicts are certainly not going to call it quits just because it is a little harder to get money out to the Caribbean. They will find a way to get it there, and, if not, they will find another way to get that same gambling fix, whether it be horseracing down the street, lottery at the corner bar, or feeding a few 20's into an Indian casino the next county over.
If prohibition is designed to protect the small fraction of people who will harm themselves, then there should be a lot more bans forthcoming. Alcohol (almost 17,000 DUI deaths in 2005 alone) and tobacco (kills about 1200 people per day) should be first on the ban list, far ahead of marijuana and gambling. Then of course we have to ban spray paint and gasoline (someone might "huff" them), cold medications (might be used to make methamphetamines), and, of course, the real killer, trans-fat. Fortunately, New York City is well ahead of the rest of the country on solving that problem.
The fact is, it is downright silly to assume that you can get rid of our vices through prohibition.
I don't gamble because I'm not good at it, I always lose, and I don't enjoy it. When I go to Vegas I drop a couple of dollars in the slots and that's it. I very rarely buy a lottery ticket. I've never been in an Indian casino, and I've never visited a gambling website. State sanctioned lotteries strike me as the height of hypocrisy.
But this column's thrust is correct (though I think the author should have avoided mentioning medical marijuana because I can't conceive of any gambling analogue). He's right, though: Prohibition is the problem.