Virtue's nice and all, but it doesn't pay the bills. So broke states are turning to vice, this morning's WSJ reports.
Ohio voters, for example, recently decided to allow casinos in their state. In Columbus, a closed Delphi auto-parts plant was knocked down last week to build a new casino.
In the past couple years, a dozen states have expanded legalized gambling or considered doing so. A similar number have eased blue laws limiting liquor sales. And several states are considering bills that would legalize and tax the sale of marijuana, the WSJ says.
There's a long history of governments looking to vice when times are tough. The federal government legalized betting on horse races during the depression. Prohibition was repealed in 1933, in part because of the need for tax revenue and the high cost of law enforcement.
Ohio has a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion. That was enough to sway the state's governor, Ted Strickland, who previously called gambling a regressive tax on the poor.
"If I had not been confronted with these difficult circumstances, I would have obviously opposed expanding gambling in Ohio," he told the WSJ.