The Albuquerque Journal ran this op-ed on February 8 that Dr. Clark wrote on House Bill 250 which, along with a novel management of scholarship funds, would outlaw “Play at the Pump,” Online lottery games, and Video Lottery Terminal (a.k.a. slot machines). The lottery has indicated an interest or has already implemented some of these things.
Albuquerque Journal Guest Columns
Lawmakers should outlaw ‘video lottery games’
By Dr. Guy C. Clark / Chairman, Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico
Wednesday, February 8th, 2017 at 12:02am
House Bill 250 has attracted a fair amount of attention for its logical approach to lottery fund distribution to the state scholarship program. Stop Predatory Gambling New Mexico is very much in favor of HB 250, mainly because of the provision that would outlaw “video lottery games.” There are three types of video lottery games the lottery authority has been recently promoting.
One form is the “play at the pump” devices that the New Mexico Lottery has already installed at over a dozen service stations around the state. The lottery basically spit in the face of the New Mexico Legislature by installing them after the Legislature rejected the lottery legislation the last two years in a row. So far, no legislator is sponsoring “play at the pump” legislation this session, probably to avoid the humiliation of dealing with an organization that has no respect for their deliberations. In Minnesota, their legislature outlawed “play at the pump” when the state lottery pulled a similar stunt.
The second type is online lottery playing. David Barden, chairman of the New Mexico lottery, recommended legalizing online lottery games for smartphones, etc. at two Legislative Finance Committee meetings that I attended. He mentioned that young people do most of their commerce and game playing on mobile devices, and why shouldn’t we take advantage of this popular technology? Imagine allowing legalized video lottery games into our bedrooms, studies, kitchens, dormitories, etc. This would generate a major expansion of gambling addiction in New Mexico, especially among the young people Mr. Barden mentioned.
This online gambling would embolden the Poker Player’s Alliance, plus the brick-and-mortar casinos to demand similar opportunities. That could lead to full-blown legalized casino gambling on the internet in New Mexico.
The third type that the lottery has recommend in their legislation the last two years is “Lottery Gaming Systems.” Over a dozen states have legalized “video lottery systems” in the form of stand-alone Video Lottery Terminals (VLT’s). These machines allow gamblers to play video poker and other casino-style games at convenience stores, beauty shops, shopping malls, grocery stores and anywhere you would expect to see paper lottery tickets being sold. These are, in reality, actual slot machines that these state lotteries operate.
Many studies have shown that video gambling machines (slots and online gambling) are much more addictive than other forms of gambling. Public health providers have termed them the “crack cocaine of gambling.” Dr. John Welte of Maryland has done extensive research on these systems and found them to triple the speed at which gambling addiction occurs compared to traditional forms of gambling. Studies in South Dakota and South Carolina discovered that calls into their addiction hot lines and addiction treatment centers dropped off spectacularly when the lottery gaming systems were shut down by court action.
University and state government research on gambling has shown time and again that the state lotteries exploit the poor, the uneducated and minorities. These families spend a disproportionate amount of their income on the lottery, not just as a fraction of their income, but in raw number of dollars, more than the middle and upper income families.
Stop Predatory Gambling hopes that the Legislature gets it right this time with a prohibition on the outrageous expansion of gambling the state lottery has been proposing.
It’s time for the government to get out of the predatory gambling racket.