By Martin Feldstein
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The same is true if it is found that the legalization of gambling leads to an increase in the amount of disease that needs to be treated at the taxpayer’s expense. This is what is claimed by people who say that legalization leads to a substantial increase in pathological gambling. In principle, it should be possible to work out what the total increased costs to the taxpayer will be as well as how much money will be saved by gamblers, who can now purchase more cheaply the same quantity of pleasure as they could obtain previously through illegal gambling or through more expensive 38 Gambling and the Public Interest substitute activities.
The law forbids spouses to hit each other. Should it try—can it reasonably hope—to stop spouses from shouting at one another, especially, say, in front of their children? If it could do so easily and without unacceptable side effects, no doubt the answer would be yes. But the truth is that to enforce such a prohibition would be accounted an intolerable intrusion into people’s private lives. It would have thoroughly undesirable consequences, such as encouraging or requiring neighbors to report on each other.
Think now of games like ring-a-ring-aroses; here is the element of amusement but how many other characteristic features have disappeared! . ”4 It may thus be a mistake to look for characteristics that are common to all gambling activities and constitute their essence, because there is no essential characteristic common to all games. Instead we should look at the ways in which some games and some gambling activities resemble each other in some respects but not in others, as do members of the same family.