Gambling is no answer for budget

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Should gamblers be allowed to roll the dice with a click of a button?

New Jersey residents can do just that today as the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement clears the way for Internet gambling to be legal in the Garden State.

The move allows New Jersey residents to join people in Nevada and Delaware, where Internet gambling is already legal.

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With the next session of the Mississippi Legislature a little more than a month away, Internet gaming will almost certainly be suggested as an option for lawmakers to consider.

Virtual gaming along with a statewide lottery — the perennial budget shortfall panacea — likely will be touted as “must haves” for Mississippi.

When that happens, we urge lawmakers to use caution and tune their hype alarms on high.

Twenty years ago when gambling was first introduced in Mississippi, supporters effectively promised streets of gold ahead for Mississippi towns and cities.

While certainly not the path of destruction that some gambling opponents foretold, what followed was far from being as successful as originally touted.

Once other states began legalizing gaming — and Native American tribes joined in as well — the specialness quickly wore off.

The same will be true of Internet gambling. Before Mississippi goes “all in” on yet another sure bet, we might be wise to simply say, “check,” and let others drive the next gaming sensation.