Friday, June 17, 2005

Cherry on top

In a state that allows casinos, betting on horses, off-track betting parlors and a lottery, why are Cherry Masters illegal? The objection to Cherry Master machines isn't a moral issue - obviously Indiana sanctions gambling. Nor is the prohibition based on a resistance to "expanding" gambling in Indiana - these underground slot machines were lurking inside bars and taverns long before the state's first horse track was built.

The real distinction between Cherry Masters and the many other forms of state-approved wagering is that government hasn't figured out how to get its financial cut from these Cherry Masters. So, Cherry Masters remain illegal, and every so often, state excise police, usually acting on tips, go on the hunt to confiscate the banned slots. However, since Governor Mitch Daniels took office, excise officers have been increasingly aggressive in doing their jobs on a more consistent basis.

That puts a request by State Representative Ben GiaQuinta in an unusual light. Rep. GiaQuinta wants the state to show him a list of names of people who complained about particular Cherry Master-harboring-establishments thereby triggering excise investigations. And he insists that seeing the names of the whistle-blowers is vitally important to understanding why police are upholding the law.

Frankly, I didn't know police needed a reason to do their jobs - even when it comes to enforcing what some would argue is a nonsense prohibition.

Anyone want to bet whether this issue can get even more convoluted?

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