Massachusetts: A State Lottery Shows Its Corrupt And Irresponsible Core

“Hey! No fair! Smart people aren’t supposed to play the lottery!”

On one level, I love this story, for it confirms what I have been arguing for over a decade. State lotteries represent an unethical capitulation of governments to laziness, cowardice and greed, as they choose  emulate casinos to entice the poor, desperate and stupid to give away their money rather than do their duty and make hard political choices about taxes. The inherent corruption this engenders was beautifully demonstrated by the lottery scandal recently revealed in Massachusetts.

A group of science and math whizzes, many of whom had MIT credentials, formed a gambling syndicate to beat the lottery, and did, generating almost $8 million in winnings after exploiting a flaw in the lottery rules to execute a system that virtually guaranteed profit. Their domination of the lottery continued over seven years, and was known about by lottery officials, who did nothing. Why? Because the money was coming in, and they didn’t understand that they were facing a net loss. Continue reading

The Card-counting Conundrum

There is a terrific thread going on over at the Volohk Conspiracy, consistently one of the most erudite and thought-provoking blogs there is. Noting that a Indiana court has declared that the state’s casinos are prohibited from throwing blackjack players who count cards out of their establishment, Prof. Volokh, who has a libertarian streak, opined that casinos should be able to toss out the card counters, and that the case was wrong. Well, all hell broke out after that, and as usual for that blog (and, some golden day, for this one), there has been a flood of comments from every kind of authority from legal experts to card counters themselves.  They show what an odd and ethically topsy-turvy matter the controversy over card-counting is. Continue reading