“Gambling: The sure way of getting nothing for something.”

Wilson Mizner, American playwright

I noticed that members of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee of the Maine Legislature are now discussing a sports-betting bill. I remember (well, vaguely) when I arrived in Maine in October 1982 because I was stationed in Portland, a move I was very surprised by but also extremely happy about. It’s not that Maine was strange to me, because I was born and raised in New Hampshire and first went to Maine because one of my brothers married in Fryeburg. What’s kind of ironic here is that many decades ago an ancestor of my wife married into the same family from Fryeburg, which shows how small our world can be.

Oops, this column is supposed to be about gambling, something I figured Maine would not have, ever. I sometimes traveled down Main Street in South Portland on my way home from work in Portland and would stop at a small convenience store just a short distance from the old Humpty Dumpty potato chip factory. Oh, didn’t I love the smell when passing that place.

Anyway, I could get a good sandwich or whatever for supper, a beverage or two, and it was there that I first saw and purchased scratch tickets. So I purchased five tickets – probably one or two dollars each at that time – and presto, I won $70. At that time I hadn’t a clue about Megabucks or Pick 3, but the state of Maine certainly has plenty of gambling commercials now.

My point here is that there was gambling in Maine but no casinos. I remember the biggest argument against casinos was that Maine was against gambling although truthfully it already existed.

Then Maine went on to join with Mega Millions, Powerball, Lotto America, World Poker Tour, and Lucky for Life, and I probably missed one or two as well.

Then, as we all know, along came two gambling houses, call them what you want. I think we also know it was easy to place bets on other things as well, although most of those winning bets weren’t taxed. How many us have placed bets on football pools, especially for the Super Bowl?

I won’t get into all the details about the sports-betting bill because I have this feeling it has a long discussion period before it becomes final. But I have to laugh because here’s a state with a low population which has hardly increased for decades with one of the largest percentages of older people in the country (trying to be kind here because I am one of them also.) Is gambling such a good bet (pardon the pun) that Maine continually wants to expand it? I will state right here and now that if Maine is going to continue to expand gambling, then the Maine Legislature needs to expand the taxes on the profits of all gambling establishments.

One thing I bet on was when Colorado began legal sales of marijuana the illegal sales of it would rise as well and it certainly has.

Lane Hiltunen of Windham placed one bet on a horse in his entire life. The horse came out of the gate and promptly fell on its face. Lesson learned.

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