Dorchester Debate#4: Abolish State Gambling

If you are not at Dorchester you are missing all the fun. If you can’t be there you still can offer your comments on the hot topics they will be debating. Below are the pro-con of their four debate topics, please feel free to drop us your comment.

Resolved: The Oregon Constitution should be amended to abolish state-sponsored gambling, including the State Lottery and retail video gaming machines.

The State of Oregon is addicted to gambling””its citizens on games of chance, its government on the abundant and steady profits. And like the pusher who preys on the junkie, the state preys on the gambling addict. Marketing campaigns whitewash gambling with euphemisms like “lottery” and “gaming,” while instruments of extortion proliferate across Oregon. The recreational player can recognize gambling’s universal truth: assured long-term monetary disadvantage. But the problem gambler is blind to the cold odds his government has set against him. Video Poker pays 92.8% which means for every $100 gambled the average participant “wins” $92.80 with the state pocketing the remaining $7.20. By contrast the smaller fly by night operations in Las Vegas operating standard slot machines payout 96.6%. While gambling does offer a significant and steady source of revenue, this comes at a high social and moral cost. Should our government, which is flush with record revenues already, continue to profit off the weaknesses of its most vulnerable citizens? It is time to get the State of Oregon out of the gambling business.


Each day thousands of Oregonians cast a vote in support of the State Lottery and other games of chance, by playing. Combined, the State of Oregon receives $483 million a year in revenues from lottery games and retail video poker and line games. These funds provide a steady, reliable and increasingly important role in supporting the day-to-day operations of state government. Local governments””cities, counties and ports for example””also benefit from lottery funds in the form of grants. And all of these proceeds are generated voluntarily, through the thousands of individual choices made by average Oregonians to spend their money in pursuit of gaming entertainment. While opponents claim gaming to be an increasing social problem, the opposite is actually true. A recent study showed a decrease in the percentage of Oregonians who could be classified as “problem gamblers.” Much of this improvement is directly attributable to the aggressive problem gambling awareness campaigns run by the state to prevent and treat gambling addiction. Funding for those programs is in part assured thanks to the reliable and steady revenue from the Oregon State Lottery. Abolition of the State Lottery is a solution in search of a problem.