January 12, 2011

Dictionary Fun with Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito

Miguel Exposito and the City of Miami Police Department has been making the papers by seizing and destroying video games that he claims are used for gambling.

The Miami Herald quotes Major Alfredo Alvarez:
"People get addicted to them, especially the senior citizens who live on social security,'' he said. It's immoral to have these machines out there the way they're hurting the lower to middle class.''
Note that he didn't say "criminal."   I find that fascinating.  "Immoral."  My grandma tells stories about bathing suit inspectors, who would measure the gap between the hem of her bathing suit and her bathing hose, because it was immoral to show more than 3 inches of your knee at the beach.  When someone is enforcing morality, I see them leering at young women, clammy hands gripping a measuring stick, looking for an excuse to prosecute someone who isn't doing  damned bit of harm.

I'm from Atlantic City.  I had a neighbor who was addicted to gambling; she cost her family everything.  Literally.  When they moved in next door to us the year before the casinos opened, her husband had parlayed hard work into apartment buildings in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, homes in both cities, cars for all the adults  (he drove a Cadillac that year, and so did she), and a boat.  25 years later, he died a pauper, with the clothes on his back and a  beater truck to his name.  She lives with her granddaughter, now.

I remember well the day that her husband discovered that she had taken out second and third mortgages on their last property - their house - to settle her debts.  She hadn't told him.  (There's a long and complicated story on how that happened, but that's for another time).  He thought he'd cut her off by not letting her have money.  He never dreamed that she'd simply sell everything out from under them to get a stake.

So, when Major Alvarez talks about the harmful effects of gambling, I know full well what the effects of gambling addiction really are.

So what exactly, are the stakes on the machines?  After all, the thrill of gambling comes from the rush of wagering a small amount against the possibility of winning a much larger amount.  The longer the odds, the bigger the rush.  So what can you win for your coin?

According to The Miami Herald:
Players insert money, receive credits and win when they land certain icons like a cherry or star.
Uh, say what?  They get... credits?

Well, maybe I misunderstand the word "Gamble."  So let's look it up, shall we?
gam·ble: intransitive verb -  1. to play a game for money or property 
- Merriam Webster
OK, so you put in your coin, and you get... well, a number.  A score.  How is that considered gambling?

Do you know what else you put a coin into, and at the end all you have is a numerical score?  A pinball machine. So why aren't the cops seizing pinball machines?

Because, apparently, pinball machines require skill, and it doesn't take skill to win anything at a video slot machine; you just pull the lever and pray.  Games that require skill are legal.  Games of chance require no skill, and so they are illegal.

That's it.  That's the big crime the cops are protecting us from.  Whoop-dee-fucking-doo.

I've never understood this reasoning.  If it requires no skill to win, if it's all random chance, doesn't that level the playing field?  "What does it take to win this game? DUMB LUCK!"  Why is are games that require a skill, games where a skilled player can clean out an unskilled one - why are they "better" than a game of chance that relies on, well, chance?

And frankly, the money being tossed around these things - CHUMP CHANGE.  Gran-dad lost his cigarette money - oh, no, now he's not going to kick off from lung cancer!!

But when you have a City police force full of thugs who shoot people at the least provocation, I guess arresting people who aren't actually doing any harm is more important than, I don't know, ticketing all those insane motorists who pose a real danger to life and limb by running red lights in this city a hundred times a minute.  Or pulling over aggressive drivers before they shoot someone.  Or shooting people who spit their gum out on the sidewalk.  You know, actual criminals.  They could be seizing guns, or drug paraphenalia, things that KILL people.  Instead, they are protecting, for lack of a better word, our virtue.

I hate to say it, but Mayor Regalado is actually right on this one; license the machines and tax the owners.  If people want to throw away their hard-earned money, who the fuck is Miguel Exposito to stop them?  He should quit wasting taxpayer money on something so mind-bogglingly stupid, and go stop some real crime.  It's not like we've run out down here in Miami.

And then you get pinheads like Bob Sertell.  He's a "gaming expert."  Which I'm pretty sure means that prosecutors pay him to tell juries that gambling is bad.  Nice work if you can get it. 

Here's an example of his so-called expert advice, again quoted from the Miami Herald:
"The `application of skill' is bull,'' Sertell said. "In actual practice, none of the machines do that.''
See, because someone decided that random chance, the guiding force of the entire fucking Universe, is wrong, they've decided to define gambling not by its proper actual definition, but a made-up one, where it's OK if it takes skill, but it's not OK if it doesn't.

Do you follow that?  Me either, but that's because we're not puritanical assholes. 

Let's look at it another way:
  • GOOD: working hard to save up $100,000,000,000
  • BAD: winning $100,000,000,000 in the lottery.
Why is playing the lottery bad?  Because for every person that wins $100,000,000,000, there are about 200,000,000,000 who simply lost a buck.

Oh, wait, the Lottery isn't illegal!  Which is odd, because 1. it takes no skill to play the lottery, and 2. it is actually gambling because you are risking a small amount of cash to win a large amount of cash.  (remember, the video games being seized do not pay out anything - you earn a high score).

If gambling by laying a game that takes no skill to win is a crime, and the police must seize gambling machines at any cost, why hasn't Exposito seized a single Lotto machine?   Lotto exactly fits both the actual definition of gambling - putting out a little money in hopes of winning lots - and fake priggish gambling - there is no skill whatsoever involved, it's all dumb luck.  Why isn't Alvarez storming every Publix and 7-Eleven in town? Is there any way that this isn't a hopeless double-standard? 

No.  That's exactly, precisely, all it is.

What this tells us, ultimately, is that Chief Exposito and Major Alvarez aren't interested in catching criminals so much as enforcing arbitrary moral standards codified by a bunch of prudes onto the citizens of Miami, who largely don't give a rat's ass.

Which is why gang members are free to drive by people's homes and fire guns into them, assholes are free to run red lights, and none of us are safe in our own homes.

Exposito is supposed to be protecting us.  He isn't.  Instead, he's doing something else on the taxpayer dime:
GAMBOL: intransitive verb - to skip about in play : frisk, frolic
Hmm, sounds like just the crime he likes to prosecute....


  1. Sounds to me like he's just protecting the state's little numbers game - the lottery.


  2. Hey Dipstick-
    The ones you should be beating up are the legislators who passed the State Statute, not the cops who must enforce it.

    Your hate for cops is evident.

  3. Miguel Exposito and Al Alvarez are political hacks, they know police work like I know proctology. They have been milking the system with these silly machines for years. Their conviction rates are atrocious meaning they wasted time and effort on something no one cares about.

  4. Anonymous 11:28 - (or should I call you "Miguel?") My hate isn't for cops, it's for self-aggrandizing assholes who ignore the laws that actually protect us in favor of laws that don't protect anyone. Running stop lights is against the law, too, and is actually dangerous. Running up the high score on a video game isn't even moderately dangerous. So why choose to enforce the latter when there are literally hundreds of lights being run every hour? If there were no REAL crime, I might not get so upset that our money is being wasted so frivolously.

  5. I know Bob Sertell. He is a pinhead!