Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Art Of The Con

In case you haven't noticed, a new sort of gambling hall has been popping up all over Ohio, featuring what are being termed games of skill. That is, the games are at least 51% skill based. These games should be outlawed.

I don't make this judgement based on the fact that Ohio voters have turned down gambling on the ballot three times, these games are not gambling. Instead, they are con games dressed up as gambling. Let me explain.

If you go to any state that allows electronic gaming, there is a state law that governs the minimum rate of return that those games pay out. For instance, in Nevada the minimum rate of return is 75% and in New Jersey it is 83%. Competition for players of those games though generally drives up the rate of return to the high nineties. The games populating Ohio have much, much lower rates of return, but are dressed up to look like the games players are used to playing in states that have regulatory control of the rate of returns.

What this generally means is that if over a period of time in Nevada you inserted $100,000,000 into an electronic game, at the end of play you would have roughly $75,000,000 left over and the house would keep the rest. In Ohio, you might only be left with half that, if anything.

To put it quite simply, legalizing gambling in Ohio would be the equivalent of legalizing pot, keeping games of skill legal in Ohio is the equivalent of legalizing crack.

As a test, I recently went to one of these parlors to see how long it would take me to lose $100. The game I played offered me nine ways to win each hand. I played a dime each way for a total of ninety cents a hand. The hundred dollars was gone in just over an hour. Imagine how fast a hard core gambling addict, or drunk, would lose his money.

We are currently getting all of the pitfalls of gambling, with none of the benefits that scrupulously run casinos would bring. The legislature needs to close the door on this loophole by making them illegal, or vote to allow legalized gambling in Ohio. I really don't care which way they go on this issue, but to do nothing is a criminal in itself.

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