A sure bet

Thursday, May 5, 2011

There's a term that gamblers use -- "sucker bet" -- where the returns on a wager is significantly lower than the amount of money being bet. They are often used to lure inexperienced players to bet against large odds, lured by the prospect of "easy" money.

More often than not, we would advise against taking these types of wagers. You will probably lose.

But that's the case with gambling. The odds usually favor the "house," the gambling establishment.

It seems that the Iowa Legislature needs to bone up on gambling odds. On Tuesday, the House passed gambling legislation that will now go to Gov. Terry Branstad.

A look at the measure shows that the gaming industry in Iowa made out pretty well.

When gambling was legalized in the 1980s, there was a county-wide vote every eight years to renew or deny the gambling permit. This gave voters an opportunity to deny the permit (the illusion of local control). To date, no second referendum has failed.

The new measure will turn this process upside down, forcing gambling opponents to gather enough signatures to call for a vote on the license.

Casinos 1, Iowans 0.

An attempt to expand Iowa's indoor smoking ban to casinos was brushed aside as well. If you want to smoke indoors somewhere besides your own home, head for a casino and light up.

Casinos 2, Iowans 0.

You will now be able to bet on horse races at Prairie Meadows in Des Moines online or by phone (just like in the classic movie, "The Sting").

Casinos 3, Iowans 0.

A study of online gambling will be conducted to see if it can be done (through the casinos, of course).

Casinos 4, Iowans 0.

The proposal by Gov. Branstad to raise tax rates on the casinos to levels agreed upon when they opened in the 1980s is no longer actively being discussed.

Casinos 5, Iowans 0.

Yes, we realize that casinos employ people, donate a portion of their profits to charitable and non-profit projects and purchase goods locally. They also attract visitors to the communities where they are located.

But, as is the case more often than not the casinos (often referred to as "the house") win. It's their business to win.

They certainly did this legislative session.