Video Poker Can be South Carolina’s Economic Stimulus
Setting aside partisan politics, South Carolina does have an option to bolster the budget.
Although it is certainly a controversial issue, there is one source of income that they and other lawmakers continue to ignore but could alleviate all the budget cuts: Video Poker. I’ll give you a moment to think back to 1999 when video poker was outlawed. Before it was outlawed, video poker was a 3.5 billion dollar business that supplied thousands of jobs and contributed 62 million dollars in revenue. Some lawmakers that are in favor of bringing it back have talked about adding a 25 percent tax that would increase revenues from video poker to 750 million dollars. Think about it, 750 million dollars would completely erase the budget deficit and leave us in a surplus. A surplus that could be used for local education, job retraining, infrastructure repairs, to create more scholarships for instate students, or for tax cuts, Mark Sanford’s favorite subject. Some say that the revenues generated by video poker would come exclusively from the poor in South Carolina, but they ignore a study done by Clemson University in 1995 that concluded that only 16 percent of South Carolina citizens actually participated in video poker, while most of the players were actually out of state tourists that stopped and played while traveling along the main interstates or players from along the border in Georgia and North Carolina. Wouldn’t it be great to alleviate our budget concerns with revenue coming from citizens of other states? I think that raising revenues mainly from citizens of other states is something that Mark Sanford and me can both agree on.
Now many lawmakers in our state feel that they need to be the “moral police” and make sure that they do what is good for the citizens. These are the same hypocrites that believe in personal responsibility and deregulation, yet they feel like they should restrict us from doing an activity that we can choose to do. Why don’t they prohibit alcohol or cigarettes, both of which are more dangerous to people, yet they leave it up to personal responsibility. The citizens of South Carolina voted heavily in favor of both video poker and the lottery, and the legislature did not even vote to make it illegal, the state supreme court outlawed it. That doesn’t sound at all like democracy to me. The lawmakers in the state need to stop cutting important resources like education, medicaid, and unemployment and think outside the box for once. If they were to get off their high horse and actually look at the facts instead of listening to the far right radicals, then we can actually make advances in this state instead of falling even further into economic doom. Legalizing video poker can only be a positive thing for South Carolina.