Thursday, September 20, 2012

If You Want The Law Enforced, Don't Make The Law Complicated

The Austin American Statesman had a story about the difficulty in enforcing the Texas law on gambling machines known as 8 liners.
Eight-liners, or "maquinitas," look and play like slot machines, but Texas' anti-gambling laws forbid them to pay cash prizes. Most purport to offer small prizes, but many operate outside the law and pay cash jackpots. The problem with enforcing the law is that Texas' eight-liner statutes are confusing in distinguishing between "amusement" and "gambling."
The divisiveness of the gambling issue is one reason the law is so difficult to enforce. Because there is no consensus about the morality of gambling, Texas is stuck with a complicated law that says the devices are legal if used one way, and illegal if used another way.  When you start adding arcane exceptions to the statute it makes it very difficult for law enforcement to enforce.

In the case of 8 liners, they aren't illegal to posses the machines or even to play them. They become illegal when the winnings are given in cash and not in "fuzzy animals". While I am not going to get into the morality of gambling, don't Texas police officers have better things to do than parse poorly written statutes?  If you want a law enforced, get a legislative consensus and write a better law. 

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