Lies and the lying liars who told them

Jack Bogdanski

It's unbelievable.  Now we in Oregon are going to have slot machines in our corner taverns to go along with sports book, keno, video poker, and several other forms of legalized gambling.

The state's so broke and the government's so paralyzed that this is the only way it can raise money any more.  How utterly depressing.  And what are all we proud Oregonians doing about it?  Nothing.  Fussing about where the money's going to be spent, that's all.

Perhaps saddest of all is the perversion of the constitutional process that this development represents.  I was here in the ealy '80s when Oregonians voted to have a state lottery.  I believe it needed a 2-1 margin; in any event, that was the vote, 2-1 in favor of a lottery.

But the way it was sold was as a harmless little once-a-week drawing of six  numbers for a million dollars.

If any of the proponents of that ballot measure had admitted the truth -- that in 20 years, we'd have slot machines in every bar, with no further vote of the people -- that measure would have gone down by a 2-1 margin.  Maybe even by more.

Some of the opponents warned that this would happen.  But the proponents lied and said it wouldn't.

Very slimy.

  • Anne Dufay (unverified)

    I bet if you held that vote today it would pass by an even larger margin.

    Everyone likes it, it feels so painless. And, the biggest lie -- "voluntary".

    Is it a regressive tax? Does it nurture addiction? Does it ruin families, breed corruption, even end lives? Don't ask. Don't tell.

    In reality we all know the truth. That is reflected in our Orwellian re-naming of the activity. Yup. Here in classy-town we don't put on no low-rent, chain-smoking, low-life, mob-mug “gambling”. No, we put on a top-hats-and-spats, a gowns-and-jewels, a James Bond at Monaco uptown event we are pleased to call (doesn't it sound cool?) "gaming."

    Yeah right. Anyone notice how those sad signposts of economic woe -- those canaries-in-the-mine -- those "Payday loan" places -- have proliferated right along with the video poker places?

    What a sleazy way to keep the school doors open.

  • Mac Diva (unverified)

    Jack, my major gripe with all of this is that the gambling is the raison d'etre for the existence of these 'businesses.' Sure, they are supposed to be bars, restaurants and convenience stores. But, as much as 80 percent of their revenues are derived from gambling. If they can't make a go of it as bars, restaurants and convenience stores then they should be replaced with viable businesses, in my opinion. Instead, they are subsidized by the state. If the state must support gambling, it can be done in a way that is more feasible economically. Reduce the payments to middlemen who really do nothing but provide locations at the very least.

  • Gus (unverified)

    Yep from a single Megabucks drawing weekly with 2 or 3 million dollar winners monthly to 5 Megabucks and Powerball drawings weekly and fewer jackpot winners because there are usually fewer tickets sold for the more frequent drawings. Not to mention the expanded menu of games competing for lottery ticket dollars. Last time I looked, Oregon players won only 2 jackpots in over 1,200 Powerball drawings. The lottery commission and retailers did just fine on ticket sales and commissions tho.

  • Christy (unverified)

    The fact is Oregon has a revenue problem. If we can't get Oregonians to pay more taxes, then we are stuck with the alternatives.

  • Sid Anderson (unverified)

    Mac is right. These taverns wouldn't exist if it weren't for those slime-ball machines. I actually met a wingnut Christian moralist who runs a tavern with gambling machines! She even admitted that she would be out of business without the machines. The whole darn thing is full of slime: slimy machines, slimy tavern owners, slimy lobbyists,...

  • Gus (unverified)


    When government spending grows faster than revenues the government has a spending problem.

  • (Show?)

    Yes, Mac has pointed out yet another of the lies in question. The program is supposed to be structured so that only businesses that are viable without lottery sales are allowed to make lottery sales. That's been a farce for some time.

  • David (unverified)

    The constitution is pretty clear about where the revenue from tis gaming is supposed to go. And with comissions at 28% far too much of the revenue is going to the tavern owners. Bring the commissions down to 15%; that raises $85 million for education and human services. If the businesses can't make it by selling food and drink at 15% then the market economy that Karen Minnis is so proud of, can take its course. End this aspect of corporate welfare now!

  • Terry (unverified)

    I equally decry the growth of legalized, government sponsored gambling in the blue, blue State of Oregon. Business proprietors prosper at the expense of a regressive form of taxation while the overwhelming majority of gamblers and every single one of our public schools continue to go bust. Who's trying to fool me and the person sitting next to me?

  • Anne Dufay (unverified)

    I think it's a fool's errand to try and revision state-owned gambling in some more "acceptable" fashion.

    (Like, what's with these bizarre statements that "if you become an addict indulging in our addictive product, we'll provide you with counseling." How sick is that? How desperate for money we don't have to fight for are we that we sign our names to such an abusive use of addicts?)

    Sorry, there is no sanitary, "nice" way for the state to pimp gambling at this level. This ain't no friendly little poker game at your co-worker's house. This is a corrupting business that has always relied for its profits on the mugging of the foolish and/or the addicted. Putting it in the hands of the state changes nothing. Just changes who all is corrupted by it.

    Terry's right, "who's trying to fool me and the person sitting next to me." Well said.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)


    I'll bet the Restaurant Association would be happy to trade the "corporate welfare" of the Oregon Lottery Commission for an open market of (regulated and bonded) private lottery game providers.

    The odds would be much better and the customers happier. Of course, without its monopoly the Oregon Lottery wouldn't exist and $400 million walks out the door.

    But, I imagine the realpolitik compromise will involve a tip credit against the min. wage in exchange for your reduced lottery commissions.

    It's the only solution that makes any political sense.

    The Leg. will eventually cut both those babies in half and the pol's will clamor to slap each other's backs with praise because revenues will be increased.

    Gotta keep feeding the beast. It's getting hungy.

  • Jimmie D. (unverified)

    The lottery was authorized by constitutional amendment in 1984. It's now part of Article XV Section 4 of the Oregon Constitution.

    Art XV Sec 4 is about two printed pages long in the Oregon Revised Statutes and contains 24 separate paragraphs and subparagraphs, some of them quite lengthy.

    In light of recent appellate court ruling on "single subject" amendments, I doubt that amendment is even legal. It covers way, way more than one subject. A court challenge might make the entire gambling framework go away -- at least until 2/3rd of both houses voted to revise the constitution and get majority approval from the people.

    Without the 1984 amendment, I don't think we'd have any legal gambling in Oregon with the possible exception of church bingo.

    I have no idea who would have standing to challenge it, though. Or if there's some kind of time limit on challenging the constitutionality of a constitutional amendment based on single-subject principles. Or if there's even a point, since the legislature would probably rally like mad around a constitutional revision, just because they'd rather live on lottery money than do a principled re-evaluation of the tax code in this state.

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