Mayor May Not

[RR] Roderick the Rock was always up on current events, especially any news that related to gambling. “Did you hear that the former mayor of San Diego, Maureen O’Connor, was so addicted to video poker that she lost over $13 million over the course of a dozen years, helping to drain her once $40+ million dollar fortune, and eventually resorted to embezzling money from a nonprofit organization that she was a trustee of?” he inquired of the group.

[TT] “How did San Diego twice elect / a woman of judgment so suspect?”, Tyrone the Telephone asked in response.

[SS] Stan the Stat countered, “Politicians aren’t exactly known for their brains. Charisma, yes. Intelligence, no.”

[RR] “O’Connor was beyond addicted. Video poker basically became her life as she tried to fill the void left by the death of her husband1 and some other family and friends. She reported losses, mostly offset by gains, of over a billion dollars. She didn’t need the money (well, not at first), so she’s not like a lot of regular Megabucks lottery players who dream of striking it rich.”

[AA] “The lottery’s just a regressive tax on the probabilistically challenged”, Al the Almost noted.

[SS] “That’s true of the smaller games, where you can only win a few hundred dollars. But everyone has a utility curve, and Megabucks and the other large games offer life-changing money. It’s really the only way some people will ever get that rich. Unlikely but still more likely than some random guy who likes to sing in the shower winning American Idol. The same thing goes for people who play Keno and slot machines.”

[RR] “There’s also the entertainment factor. Ten dollars may well be worth it to be able to dream of a million dollars for a few days. And the excitement. Video poker, Keno, and slots are all designed to pay off periodically, giving the gambler a brief ‘fix’ and luring them back for more.”

[TT] “So the states all willfully tax / The shirts on their residents’ backs / Passing slot and lottery acts.”

[RR] “Which is why online poker will be legalized soon enough. Once the U.S. and state governments figure out how to get their share of the action, the doors will be swung wide open.”

[SS] “Absolutely. Poker should never have been included in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 in the first place. There’s a huge difference between completely luck-based, guaranteed-loss-in-the-long-run ‘gambling’ like lotteries2, and skill-based games like poker. Most amateur poker players are trying to improve their skills and make the game a profitable way to have fun. While professional poker players know that if they manage their bankrolls properly and select their games well, they’ll never need to find a 9-to-5 job.”

[RR] “It’s just not right when video poker, where no amount of skill will make you a long-term winner, is legal in over half of our states, but online poker is illegal in all fifty.3

[TT] “The ex-mayor may not have stolen the money / ‘Just a zero-percent interest loan, honey’ / Our cloudy laws are certainly a bit funny / ‘Til online poker returns to make it sunny.”

Footnotes:

  1. Her husband, Robert O. Peterson, founded the Jack-In-The-Box restaurant chain.
  2. Unless a state messes up, like Massachusetts did with its Cash WinFall game.
  3. Nevada and Delaware may soon become the first to legalize online poker, creating a small multi-state player pool similar to how our multi-state lotteries work.
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