Sunday, March 11, 2007

NCAA betting pools soon to be legalized?

One thing that really chafes at my libertarian side is the laws against gambling here. Basicaly, all gambling outside of the casino or government run lottery is illegal unless you give government their cut (license). It's protection money against prosecution.

If you go to the casino, it is legal. If you buy a lottery ticket, it is legal. If you go to Cleary's Pub and play keno, it's legal. If you are at a friendly poker game, you are a criminal. If you are involved in a Super Bowl wager - you are a criminal. If you are in an NCAA betting pool, you are a criminal. The penalty is $1000 fine and up to a year in the county lockup. Government can't get their cut that way...

The Argus has a story out about an attempt to decriminalize the NCAA betting pool. Personally, I'd go much further than that and legalize most gambling (even though I'm not a big gambler), but this is a good first step.

“What makes March Madness unique is that all kinds of people and sports fans of all levels fill out their brackets and enjoy the tournament,” Rep. Kim Meltzer, R-Clinton Township, said in a statement. “It’s a crime we consider that a crime, and I want to change it.”

Meltzer plans to introduce legislation that would decriminalize participation in an NCAA tournament office pool.

Her proposal would exempt NCAA college basketball tournament brackets from the definition of gambling under Michigan law. The maximum allowable entry fee would be $20 and the pool could not exceed 100 people. The revenue from the pool could be divided only among its participants.

NCAA tournament office pools are increasingly popular in Michigan and elsewhere in the U.S. NCAA surveys suggest more than 10 percent of Americans participate in them.

A few years ago, the FBI estimated that more than $2.5 billion is wagered on the tournament each year. The vast majority of the wagering is outside of the legal Nevada sports books.

I'm not sure this will pass because all of the Chippewa and Detroit Casino interests, along with the Michigan Lottery will certainly oppose having to deal with this for competition, even though a large number of people break the law on this anyway. I hope it passes. We have too much government in this state, and this is one major example of it. This is a good first step at repealing stupid laws. I'd go further, but I'll take what I can get. Kudo's to Kim Meltzer (R - Macomb County) for a good first start.


Keith Richards said...

Every company I've ever worked at has had pools running for just about everything possible, including sporting events, paycheck numbers, election outcomes, and the date a baby will be born. If this activity is illegal than just about everybody is a criminal because most people participate in these pools.

We definitely need to get rid of some of these old "blue" laws which attempt to legislate morality and let law enforcement worry about more important things, like preventing terrorism.

rick said...

True, we could make these activities legal. And when they become the only economic activity left in our state maybe we will elect some people with the bigger picture in mind, rather than concerning themselves with the NCAA basketball tournament. Come on people... GROW UP!!! Get a life!!!