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Obama’s position on gambling

So there is finally new president on his way into the White House. He is going to have a litany of problems to deal with and I’m sure one of the most trivial will be regulating gambling. But it is of some concern to us so lets take a look at what sorts of things one might expect from President Obama.

He has made comments during the primary race that suggest he is wary of measures that expand the legalization of gambling in America. He has concerns for “moral and social costs” associated with gambling and its effects on the lower income segment of society. I think one can safely assume that  these concerns are driven primarily by economic ramifications.  I believe that most economists consider casinos and gambling to be, in the long run, detrimental to an economy. They provide high up front revenue, but the negative aspects that tend to assert themselves (not the least of which being crime and a depreciation of surrounding property value) significantly outweigh those benefits. Now I am no economist and am not familiar enough to say definitively that that is a prevailing view; so take it with a grain of salt.

Now, the reason I say it is primarily on economic grounds that he objects is in contrast to moral objections. He probably doesn’t have strong ones. He is a poker player. A pretty good one from first hand accounts. He would regularly come out on top at weekly games among Illinois political figures. He apparently knows the odds well and, like most things, he always plays to win. He is up for a game of poker like anyone else. His problems with gambling are from a purely pragmatic, social effects standpoint.

That might explain why he was not as strong in his opposition of online poker. In fact he wants an independent study done on the subject in order to be better informed and make the best possible decision. Sounds a lot like the play to win, methodical poker strategy he’s credited with.

Probably can’t say for sure what his final decisions on these matters will be, but he seems to embody the decision making capacities of a calm, dispassionate poker player, so I’m not worried. Whichever way he goes with this decision, or any others really, its a good bet that he can be trusted to make an informed, careful decision. Something this country has been sorely lacking.

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