August 28, 2007

Virtual Blackjack is No More a “Lottery” than Real Blackjack Is

Carroll Andrew Morse

According to Katherine Gregg in today’s Projo, Rhode Island lottery officials aren’t planning to let little things like the voters or the meaning of the law get in the way of their quest to expand gambling in Rhode Island…

With the threat of casino gambling looming in Massachusetts, there is a move to bring “virtual blackjack” to Twin River, possibly as early as next month.

Lottery Director Gerald Aubin confirmed yesterday that he has asked GTECH and a second vendor, International Game Technology (IGT), whether they are interested in supplying an initial 18 machines that simulate a live blackjack game by allowing five or six players to sit at a table, signaling their moves — hit me again, double-down, split — electronically to a “dealer” on a video screen….

In interviews yesterday, both Aubin and state Rep. William San Bento, the chairman of the legislature’s Lottery oversight committee, said they believe, and have been assured by legal advisers, that voter approval is not required because the machines do not, in their view, constitute the introduction of a new form of gambling in Rhode Island.

“If you look at the components and the definition” of a video-lottery terminal, Aubin said, the new multiplayer games familiar at many commercial casinos and introduced by the Delaware Lottery last year are “absolutely nothing different than what we have.”

Governor Carcieri agrees. Though he was an avowed opponent of the Harrah’s-sponsored Narragansett Indian casino proposal on last year’s state ballot, spokesman Jeff Neal said: “The governor is aware of the Lottery division’s plan and does not object. Based on the information the governor has been given, these virtual table games are no different in substance from a video-lottery terminal. As a result they are perfectly allowable under current statute.”

Sorry folks, but the central concept of a lottery is a random selection of winners. Something where your own skill and/or the skill of other players involved changes the odds of winning is not a lottery.

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More stop-gap money making schemes from our illustrious General Assembly.

Posted by: Greg at August 28, 2007 11:49 AM

Exactly, Greg.

Revenue is not the problem, honorable solons.

Posted by: SusanD at August 28, 2007 2:23 PM

This might buy another 2 months of cash for the leeches on Smith Hill. Gambling has peaked as "the answer". It is still a lottery style game since the player relies on pure chance as to what cards are drawn. Otherwise, they would have to pull out all the poker games too.

Posted by: Mike at August 28, 2007 7:51 PM
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