States Will Regret Legalized Gambling

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Evening News/March 30, 1934

In the now sacred name of revenue much crime against public morals is being fostered in this country.

The popular form is open gambling on horse and dog races. In most states, the parimutuel system prevails. In New York, the old-fashioned bookmaker is to be revived under legal protection until the parimutuels can be submitted to a vote. 

You are a knocker and a killjoy if you raise your voice against gambling on the races, because, you are told, it is to produce revenue to the state. Nothing is said about the revenue that it will produce to the track owners.

Yet there is no record of any state that has legalized gambling on the races reducing its taxes on that account. Proportionately to the amount of money wagered by the public, the return to the state is very small, especially after it gets through paying salaries and expenses of the politically appointed crew necessary to keep track of its share of the gambling enterprise.

Public the Loser

It is a well-known fact that the pari-mutuels will eventually milk dry any ordinary community in which they operate for any length of time. The return to the state cannot possibly be commensurate to the distress created among business and working people by the gambling drain.

But in these times you must not decry legalized vice, gambling, or drinking, or anything else. Think of the revenue it all produces, even if your income taxes do continue to increase.

However, I can offer you a tip on a sure thing in connection with this craze to legalize gambling.

The pendulum will swing back a few years. Most of the states that are hastening to declare themselves in on race track gambling will suddenly realize that they are getting the worst of the partnership, financially, and morally.

Then you will find racetracks quoted as about a dime a dozen.

It is bad in principle, and worse in practice, to encourage gambling, and it can’t last.

Free Advertising

Big league baseball has received its usual $5,000,000 worth of free newspaper advertising, for which it returns nothing this spring, and is moving up out of the spring training camps of the South.

The hundreds of thousands of words, mainly persiflage, but quite diverting, sent forth by the newspaper correspondents with the various teams, informed the fans of little they did not already know.

The fans are well aware that the New York Giants will again win the National League pennant, though some of them may not have known, until they read it here, that the St. Louis Browns will win the American League pennant.

A note of sadness in the training camp news is the injury to “Rabbit” Maranville of the Braves, 41 years old, and one of the oldest active players in the game. Maranville sustained a broken leg in a collision with Catcher Norman Kies, of the Yankees, in an exhibition game.

He will be out of the game for months. Perhaps his baseball career is ended. This would be a great pity. You may take it from one who has seen many baseball players that Maranville, called “Rabbit” because of his size, has more of the various elements that go to make up what is known as “color” in a ballplayer, than any other diamond performer of the past 20 years.

Foreigners Coming Back

The William Randolph Hearst Trophy race at Palm Beach taught the Spanish and French outboard drivers something. It taught them that our American outboard racing hulls are far superior to their own heavy hulls in water that is smooth or moderately bumpy.

So, as they return home, Miguel Barilla and Manuel Giro, of Spain, and the Marquis Gonzalo de la Gandara, of France, take with them three American hulls, planning to construct similar boats, modeled to take care of their heavier engines.

The foreigners say they will come back again with these boats prepared to give our drivers closer competition. The William Randolph Hearst Trophy establishes a new field of international sports competition, but as long as we have Horace Tennes, of Illinois, as chief defender, the trophy is likely to remain in this country.

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