Gambling is how some people have fun. It is mostly harmless, as long as the gambler can control their habit and the person or business administering the game is honest.

That last requirement is why gambling is rigidly controlled where it is allowed and prohibited in other places. It isn’t so much the gambling that is troublesome, but the cheating and other bad habits that can go along with it.

The biblical saying that love of money is the root of all evil holds true nowhere more than houses of gambling. This is attested to by many sad tales, one of the latest being the case of an Upshur County man just sent to prison for the stabbing death of another man in a game room.

Months of undercover investigation recently led to the closing of several game rooms throughout East Texas, including one in Lakeport. At least 70 citations were given to those gambling, one arrest was made and thousands of dollars were confiscated in raids.

Those given citations probably aren’t particularly happy with the fines they have to pay, but it will probably wind up being much less expensive than continuing to play.

We aren’t talking about the odds of winning or losing, but the odds that the machines weren’t rigged to make winning virtually impossible. Even the machines in regulated casinos are set to allow winning only at a certain percentage, but they are regulated by law and regularly inspected to ensure they are playing by the rules.

The machines in game rooms are not regulated. They are illegal by nature. No one inspects them or checks their winning percentage. Often, those who win aren’t getting tokens back, but certificates for cheap goods that don’t closely match the amount said to have been won.

Also, those who play the machines have nowhere to go if they feel they have been cheated. And we can almost guarantee that all those who have played on such machines have been cheated at some level.

The only lucrative place in this process belongs to those who own the gaming devices.

Which is why we would like to give a shout of thanks for all the undercover officers and others who took part in the raids. For a while, at least, you have cleared the landscape of one scam.

We know the game rooms will pop up again and that it will not take long. But each time a successful raid is conducted, it makes the proprietors think twice about investing in the machines again.

If you want to gamble legally and locally, buy lottery tickets. Chances are you can lose plenty of your money that way, too, but at least you can be sure you won’t get arrested and the game will be fair.

— Longview News-Journal

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