My old man, a longtime Boston Patrolman, loved to bet on dog racing at Wonderland in Revere. It was a place for him to unwind from the job and a get a little thrill for a few bucks. But, in 2008, Massachusetts banned dog racing. To our liberal elite, betting on dogs racing in circles was unjustifiably cruel to the animals. And after all, what kind of knucklehead enjoys entertainment so mindlessly idiotic? Only problem, my old man was no knucklehead. He possessed a nearly genius level IQ.
Undaunted, Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park closed the track and opened a first-class charity poker room. According to the Boston Globe, Bob Monsini, a 67-year-old retired police officer and avid poker player enjoyed testing his poker skills against Raynham’s patrons. After all, the poker room employed friendly dealers and professional support staff. There were no reports of any crime or complaints from players. The players had some fun and charities received some needed revenue. Just a well-run poker room. But, not anymore. Today, Raynham Poker room ceased operations as Martha Coakley’s Attorney General’s Office warned it was going to investigate whether this charity poker room has complied with the regulations her office has promulgated.
In Massachusetts, if you want to do a little gambling, enjoy the camaraderie of your fellow rounders, and test your skills, you are out of luck. The Attorney General’s Office has interpreted our antiquated Massachusetts gaming laws – which outlaw only lotteries – to prohibit poker, except for charitable purposes. The Attorney General’s exacting requirements for running charitable poker games are so unbearably onerous that they amount to a complete prohibition. And the result? Those who had operated the Raynham Poker room face potential criminal prosecution, people who love playing poker locally will once again have to drive to Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun, the dealers and support staff are unemployed, and the charities which depended on the promised revenues must close funding gaps they had not anticipated.
If these regulations were motivated by a single-minded determination to rid our Commonwealth of all forms of gambling, at least that might be understandable. However, the Massachusetts Lottery has so effectively marketed their scratch tickets and the ubiquitous Keno that its profit soared to more than $900,000,000.00 in 2010 – despite the national recession and stubborn unemployment rates. And government opposition to opening casinos in Massachusetts stems not from a concern that slot machines, craps, blackjack, and poker will cause a surge in gambling addicts but that it will hurt the Lottery’s revenue, which our Commonwealth has come to depend upon to fund government services.
The message in all of this? While our government retains expert marketers to manipulate the lonely, the troubled, and the gaming addicts into squandering their meager incomes on scratch tickets, lotteries, and Keno, our Attorney General, whose drive to punish those citizens who have run afoul of her Office’s myriad of regulations nearly matches her craving for publicity, is ready to pounce if she catches you drawing to a flush.
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