You can't play online poker, but go ahead and gamble in Dunkin' Donuts

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick wants to imprison poker players who dare wager on their card skills in the privacy of their own Web browsers.

Meanwhile, a number of powerful anti-gambling forces – including the moralistic and paternalistic alike – are lining up against a plan (Patrick’s, ironically enough) to allow three state-sanctioned, tax-generating, Vegas-style casinos in a heretofore casino-free Massachusetts. The smart money says they have enough muscle, too.

Puritans on the comeback trail, you say?

Not exactly.

At the same time Patrick is rattling cell keys at the online poker crowd and the Nanny Brigade is out in full battle regalia against the drawing-board casinos, the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission – our officially blessed, multibillion gambling behemoth – is taking yet additional steps to ensure that residents here cannot step outside of their homes without tripping over a game of chance. Not content with the current status of a lottery outlet in every greasy spoon, watering hole, liquor store and Seven-11, the state’s gung-ho gambling purveyors are now targeting donut shops, drug stores and home-improvement centers such as Home Depot.

From this morning’s Boston Herald:

Although the plan is in its preliminary stages, Lottery officials said they have already spoken to Dunkin’ Donuts and are drawing closer to a deal with CVS, which has begun selling scratch tickets in California.

“These are very successful businesses and we would like to partner with them,” said Dan Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the state lottery. “The more agents we have, the more (tickets) we can sell.”

I have nothing against gambling, mind you, as evidenced by the scratch tickets in my Christmas stocking and an eagerly anticipated trip to the Foxwoods poker room coming up Friday.

But hypocrisy cheeses me off. The state bullying poker players on one hand while squeezing every last dollar out of the proletariat with the other cheeses me off. And, having to drive to Connecticut to play poker on Friday instead of staying nearby – or here at my PC – really cheeses me off.

Would you like a lottery ticket with that latte?

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