Can We Just Legalize Gambling Already?


Here are a couple of stories illustrating the absurdity of anti-gambling laws.

In Minnesota, the state has expanded its lottery to online games that might as well be slot machines. “A player sees a tic-tac-toe-like game board and uses a computer mouse to click on squares, hoping to get three 7s in a row,” reports the Fargo Forum. “If that happens, a player can win $777.”

Here in North Dakota, the Turtle Mountain Chippewa want permission from the City of Grand Forks to set up an off-reservation casino.

“The Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa is proposing a casino and entertainment complex in Grand Forks, an idea that failed to win support or the necessary approval in the past,” reports the Grand Forks Herald. “I think there are probably lots of pros and cons for a casino in Grand Forks,” Grand Forks City Council Finance and Development Committee Chairman Dana Sande is quoted as saying. “We should at least listen to what (tribal representatives) have to say.”

I think the Turtle Mountain casino proposal sounds like a decent enough idea, but here’s the problem: Gambling is still illegal for the most part in states like North Dakota and Minnesota. Except, more and more, gambling is allowed either when directly managed by the government or off-reservation gambling managed by Native American tribes.

It’s hard to imagine what the argument is against general gambling bans when state governments are themselves purveyors of gaming. And while it makes sense that gambling is allowed on reservations, where tribal government has approved it, allowing tribes to operate gambling off reservations when non-tribal members aren’t allowed to is downright protectionism.

If Americans want to gamble, they can gamble. Many bars in North Dakota already have gambling, run by non-profit charities, so why not open the industry up for everybody instead of tribal interests, non-profits and government monopolies.