Doubly stupid policies are pretty common, but here is a triply stupid one:
Unique to racino legislation is the allocation of a statutorily set percentage of gaming revenue to purses to support racing and breeding operations in the state.
So what are the three layers of stupidity here? First, there shouldn’t, as a special legal category, be racinos (that’s casino-style gaming at racetracks). Second, this legislation is a response to competition from state lotteries, which in general I do not favor. Third, the money from a dubious policy should not be spent “to support racing and breeding operations in the state.” Those operations can pay their own way: how about spending the money on poor people, rather than on sectors which extract money from a disproportionately lower income clientele? Or spending money on animal welfare without at the same time having to subsidize a “legally privileged against competitors” commercial sector?
So what is the background here?
A key theme of the enabling legislation in most states permitting casino-style gaming at racetracks [i.e., racinos] is preservation of the racehorse and greyhound racing and breeding industries in light of competition from other forms of gaming, such as state lotteries and casinos.
In other words, the racinos receive special legal exemptions to help the racetracks compete with state lotteries. (Why not opt for the simpler solution of no state lottery in the first place? Or some other notion of a regulatory level playing field? Oh, how my brain HURTS to ponder how this “problem” arose in the first place.) But it gets worse. Often “racino gaming devices” are placed under the state lottery’s regulatory authority. (Note to self: when attempting to protect B against competitive ravages from A, do not appoint A as regulatory overseer of B.)
So might we have a quadruply stupid policy here?
But wait, on second thought government lotteries, while I do not favor them, perhaps should not be described as “stupid” policies, since there are some reasonable albeit in my view misguided arguments on their behalf. So maybe we are just back to triply stupid after all, I am not sure.
That is all from Richard Thalheimer’s “The Economics of Racetrack-Casino (Racino) Gambling,” from The Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Gambling, edited by Leighton Vaughan Williams and Donald S. Siegel.
Dear readers, can you think of examples of triply or even quadruply stupid laws and policies?