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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

So what?

Pull tab revenues are down, so say state gambling regulators. While this may be bad news for some of the organizations that rely on these revenues, I tend to agree with those legislators that say it's not bad news for the state; the money is being spent elsewhere and being taxes.

Again, I have a pretty libertarian view of gambling, and I don't like laws that say that only certain organizations can set up pull-tab operations in certain places. If some bar wants to raise revenue by having pull tabs, or a slot machine, go ahead. It shouldn't matter. Plus, I have heard enough scary stories about books being cooked with these pull-tab operations to really make me wonder if it is all worth it.

One comment that struck me as interesting was that "Smoking and gambling go together," according to the executive director of Allied Charities of Minnesota. I guess that is the same as "Smoking and drinking go together." Personally, when I go out drinking, I feel neither the urge to smoke nor gamble. In fact, being able to go to bars and listen to music and not have to take a shower and wash my clothes because of the smell of cigarette smoke is simply great.


At 8:12 AM, September 28, 2005, Blogger MN Campaign Report said...

Amen. Now if only we could avoid spilling beer on ourselves, we'd be all set.

At 11:16 AM, September 28, 2005, Blogger American Lung Association of Minnesota said...

Most Minnesotans agree. The pro-smoke crowd has been trying to use charitible gambling as a rationale for smoking in bars, restaurants and clubs. They don't mention that only 5% (!) of the pulltab take actually goes to charity.

These nonprofit charities (we're one, too) knew they were putting themselves in a ethical and financial trap when they decided to fund themselves with pulltabs.

There are other ways to raise money, and they better switch soon. Charitable gambling was declining nationwide long before the smoking bans, which are here to stay.

At 6:53 AM, September 29, 2005, Blogger halfback jack said...

Agreed. However, the premise that the smoking bans alone are reducing pulltab sales is rubbish:

* For most, pulltabs are an entertainment purchase. With energy prices what they are, I suspect a lot of people who used to spend money on pulltabs are now spending those same dollars on gasoline, electric bills, etc.

* I've never been a pulltab fan myself. One of the reasons is that the person who is staffing the station *sometimes* (key word) calls their friends up to let them know that a particular set of pulltabs are getting low and some of the larger payouts are still in the bin. They come in, buy out the remainder and know that they will get a pretty good return on their investment.

I'm not going to argue that there are certainly some pulltab operations where only 5% ends up with the charity, but I think that may be an overexaggeration. There are plenty of other charitable fundraising efforts that gobble up the vast majority of the revenues in administration, overhead, through fundraising mechanisms other than pulltabs.

Like everything else, nonprofits need to make choices. Ethically and financially, if they think it makes sense to fundraise through pulltabs, that is their perogative so long as they abide by the laws the govern it.

The anti-smoke crowd has also had its share of bad publicity in terms of reporting on how some of the settlement money has been spent. I am going to assume that those allegations represented the exception and not the norm.

The other entity that may want to think about ways to raise money is the State of Minnesota. The taxes and fees that are imposed and collected are based on consumption. As usage goes down, so do the revenues. Yes, the intent is to reduce demand by increasing the price, but at the end of the day, the state is counting the money it is collecting from those taxes and fees.

In a goofy way, I would argue that the state itself is as addicted to collecting the taxes and revenues from tobacco as the individuals are who use the product. Each needs the other to support their habits.

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