Stockton Police are alleging Manteca Unified School District board member Sam Fant is a person of interest in an Internet café gambling operation.
How convenient. You apparently don’t have enough evidence to secure an arrest warrant so you smear someone’s name by saying they’re a person of interest.
Besides reminding folks that Fant is innocent until proven otherwise, you’ve got to wonder why government outlaws gambling given the fact they operate games of chance.
The California Lottery, as an example, would be illegal in Nevada for casinos since the odds are stacked too high in favor of the house. The state also allows gambling on horses primarily because they get a cut of the take.
There are also legal card rooms and bingo parlors in California. Then there are full-scale casinos on native Indian land which are allowed by federal compact.
So why is Internet café gambling illegal?
And why can’t card rooms add tables at will or not need government approval for “all controlled games”?
Government, as usual, acts more like Sybil, than Spock.
There is nothing logical or rational about laws such as those involving gambling that are riddled with double standards.
You can drive to Reno and bet $10,000 on the outcome of a sporting contest but it is illegal to bet even a dollar on an office pool for the World Series. You can’t go to an Internet café and play a game of chance but you can buy a raffle ticket for prizes for a police officer benevolent society fundraiser. Both are forms of gambling.
And while Internet café gambling generates an estimated $10 billion a year in the United States, federal authorities contend workplace betting on things such as March Madness, the World Series, NFL games, and the Super Bowl tops $8 billion a year.
So why not go after illegal workplace betting pools if you’re going after Internet gambling?
Between Puritan sensibilities and a longing for individual freedom, America as represented by Uncle Sam has always been conflicted about gambling. Not only did the 13 colonies each have at least one lottery to raise revenue, gambling in the form of lotteries also was one of the impetuses for the Revolutionary Way. The colonies were upset with the crown’s rules regarding lotteries and how they could be conducted. In 1769, the crown moved to prevent lotteries from being conducted without its authorization. Once the Independence War started, the Continental Congress established a $10 million lottery to finance the war.
As the 18th century wore on, gambling was blamed for retarding economic growth, debasing society’s moral standards, and endangering people by allegedly paving the way for crime. Vigilantes started lunching professional gamblers.
Gambling gained in popularity again after the Civil War before it started being outlawed again. It enjoyed its modern-day rebirth in the depths of the Great Depression when Nevada legalized it.
Personally, I have no use for gambling, drinking, smoking, or marijuana.
Of those four “sins” as some like to call them, gambling is the least to impact me as I can’t be killed in a car accident because someone did too much of it, I can’t suffer from second-hand blackjack, nor do most people get stoned from playing roulette.
As for protecting people with addictive personalities that spend fortunes they don’t have you could use the same moral justification to outlaw shopping given how many people spend way too much on non-necessities compared to their ability to pay for them.
Which brings us back to Stockton Police, Sam Fant, and the insanity outlined in court documents.
With all due respect to the Stockton Police, what were they thinking? When is it OK to drive 100 mph on the Cross-town Freeway and put innocent motorists imperil trying to flee someone you are tailing who allegedly turned the tables on you?
The leading cause of violent death of innocent people in San Joaquin County isn’t murder or betting on the World Series. It’s careless and reckless driving.
Fant may do some questionable things but that doesn’t justify the police imperiling the public.
Perhaps I’d be singing a different tune if they had arrested Fant for something.
But it is clear that from the court filing they can’t prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt or else they would have arrested the man.
Perhaps what the Stockton Police are doing is gambling with Fant’s reputation trying to build a case to justify months of surveillance.
Now there’s a form of reckless gambling that should be outlawed — using the judicial system to smear people you can’t legally arrest.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.