Wednesday, March 23, 2005


In keeping with the principle of our truth in advertising laws, perhaps we should require the operators of commercial gambling devices or schemes to post their odds. For example, take the New Mexico lottery. Its operators use a puppy and the roadrunner to encourage people to gamble, and they advertise when someone wins a jackpot. The lottery takes in $150 million a year, pays $50 million to the winners, pays $50 million for administration, and pays $50 million for college scholarships. The odds are what, three to one in favor of the house? It would be forthright and helpful to those who gamble their money, if the lottery advertisements would state in bold figures, "33 cents," which is what the house pays the winners.

The same principle could be applied to the slot machines. We have heard it said that the machines must pay 80%; and we have heard "loose slots" advertised. Assuming that the slots must pay 80%, and that someone can enforce that requirement, would it be a good idea for each slot to have stated on it, in bold figures, "80 cents?"

Is it right to allow a filling station to sell lottery tickets and post a sign stating "$18,000 paid out!" without requiring that vendor to also state "$54,000 taken in!"?

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