The hypocrisy on display this morning at the General Assembly with regards to HB80, entitled “Ban Electronic Sweepstakes,” was appalling. The bill would do exactly what its title implies – ban the proliferating electronic sweepstakes gaming industry that only recently emerged.
Privately run video gaming businesses would be banned if the bill passed eliminating private sector gambling in the state with the exception of Native American Indians. Sen. Marc Basnight (D-Dare) favors eliminating the electronic sweepstakes games because they prey disproportionately on the poor. Sen. Josh Stein (D-Wake) said that these electronic sweepstakes games were “competitive impulsive behavior akin to gambling.”
Speaking of gambling, the state of North Carolina’s education lottery comes to mind. This, too, preys disproportionately on the poor and is essentially a regressive tax used to fund education (unless the fund is raided to pay for something else). When asked about his contrasting stance on the state lottery and privately run gaming, Sen. Basnight claimed that “the line must be drawn somewhere.” Apparently for Basnight, the line should be in drawn in a manner that allows the state to profit from a regressive tax but does not let the private sector.
One way or the other, North Carolina and Senator Basnight need to be consistent. Gambling should either be legal or illegal but the state should not be treated differently than the private sector.