The convenience store in my hometown doesn't have Coke Zero. It does, however, have a slot machine, which I thought was surprising since, you know, you can't legally just put up a slot machine anywhere you want. Turns out, the machines are sponsored by the Iowa Lottery, and there's been some controversy over whether they should be banned. Anyway, what I thought was intriguing was the way the machines are being defended as not slot machines despite, from all appearances, being slot machines. As it said in an AP story in a local paper:
The TouchPlay machines look like slot machines, but lottery officials say their machines differ from slot machines in that they award prizes to predetermined winners. Slot machines pay out to randomly determined winners. Critics say players can't tell the difference.The story also went on to quote someone defending the machines on the grounds that people from small towns had the "right" to "the same kinds of legal entertainment" available in cities (with casinos). Even if the presence of "slot machines" would seem to only close a very small portion of the legal entertainment gap between small towns and cities, compared to, e.g., the absence of ethnic restaurants and playmobil-goth poetry slams. Also, the Touch Play machines are pretty lame compared to a real contemporary slot machine, and, if my information is correct, they also payout at a rate that would be totally unacceptable for a Vegas casino. So, yes, I guess, the right to the same kind of entertainment, except in a less enjoyable and more predatory form. And yet still, apparently, addictive enough that my sister told me that a store in a neighboring town has a stool in front of their machine so people can play for longer stretches of time.