You see them in the corners of gas stations and bars around Georgia. They are lined against the wall with chairs sitting in front of them. Usually there are people sitting in those chairs giving up dollar after dollar in hopes of winning the jackpot of the day. I am talking about video gambling machines.
It seems that everyone is playing these games now a days. It does not matter the background or income level. It is not unusual to see a city council member sitting shoulder to shoulder with a stay-at-home mom in the middle of the night playing these machines. Each person hoping to win the next big payday. So how does it work?
Here are the basic rules to legally pay out on these games. You cannot pay cash for these games. You must be over the age of eighteen to play them. When you win, you are given a gift card that is not valid for gas, tobacco, alcohol, or firearms.
There have been undercover stings where store owners and their employees are arrested for paying cash outs to customers. When a raid is done for these machines, only the employees and owner are charged for committing the crime. The ones playing have their money taken away. After a couple of days, they are playing at a different store.
Every election year when it is suggested that these machines should be legalized it is shot down. The claims are that they are highly addictive. It is claimed that children will become homeless and starved because their parents are paying these games.
There have been those who have said that crime will be on the rise due to these games. There are claims that one cannot tax these video machines or their winners. In spite all these claims permits are sold in order for these games to sit in your local gas station.
The truth is that these gambling machines are not different from the Georgia Lotto. People come in and spend hundreds of dollars for that one in a million chance to win. They play the numbers. They scratch the tickets. They buy any and everything for the chance to get the upper hand. All the while claiming that they are helping the local school.
The time and energy that goes into these raids against those who have machines in their place of business could be spent on other more important issues. They could be busting drug dealers. They could be stalking pedophiles. They could be working on cold cases of murder victims. The man-hours and energy placed on these video machines is being wasted.
It is time we legalize these machines. Let’s stop making criminals out of business owners and their customers. Instead, put in fair but logical rules into effect and uphold them. Let the same rules that apply to the lottery apply to these machines. That will free up law enforcement so they can go after real criminals.