Big story out in the San Antonio Express-News reports: “If you play the lottery, you might not think it’s a gamble to ask a store clerk to check your ticket. You might want to think again.”

The story goes on to detail a pattern of fraud, theft and abuse in the Texas lottery along the lines of store clerks checking customer tickets and misleading them about the amount won, usually pocketing a big part of the prize.

I’m tempted to respond to the problem by pointing out that this is what government does to us every day: takes our money promising services while pocketing big chunks of the money for the machine of government, before ever doling out the services to us.

More important is a point which needs to be made about the state-sponsored gambling lottery program, as well as any expansion of casino gambling in Texas. The reason these endeavors are historically heavily regulated is because, since there is no product changing hands, just money, the enterprises lend themselves to great corruption.

As I’ve stated before, I have no problem with gambling. I do however, have a problem with state sponsored or regulated gaming. Whether the lottery or the regulation of casinos, when the state is involved taxpayers are forced to subsidize, in some way, the gambling. And worse, it lends an undeserved atmosphere of safety and honesty to the practice – a false sense of security.

Better is this: Make gambling legal but keep the government out of it completely. Let market forces work and the honest will earn a reputation for such, the dishonest will (well face it, the corrupt gambling operations are already running illegally). Bottom line, Liberty is preserved on both ends: I don’t have to subsidize an activity for the convenience of another, and the gambler knowingly faces the full risks of his activity.

Robert Pratt is host of the top rated Pratt on Texas radio program which can be heard at

Pratt on Texas

Robert Pratt has been active in Texas Republican politics since the Reagan re-elect in 1984. He has served as Lubbock County Republican chairman, and in 2006 founded the Pratt on Texas radio network, providing the news and commentary of Texas on both radio and podcast. Learn more at


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