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Crony capitalist-opoly: Odds are stacked against the little guy

The beloved board game Monopoly has spawned all manner of themed spinoffs. There’s Dog-opoly, Chocolate-opoly, KISS-opoly, Muppet-opoly, Elvis-opoly and even Las Vegas-opoly.

There isn’t yet a Nevada-opoly, but if there was, the rules of the game would have to be changed significantly to be realistic.

First, there would be two competing businesses. Biz #1 would own Boardwalk and Park Place and have a hotel/casino on each space. Every other property would be owned by Biz #2, with just one little neighborhood tavern on each space.

Naturally, the Government would control all of the Railroads and Utilities and also serve as the Banker and Jailer.

Forget the dice. When it’s their turn, the players would simply announce how many spaces, between 2 and 12, they wish to advance. Biz #1 and Biz #2 would offer incentives to get the players to visit one of their properties. When they do, the player spends the listed amount while on that space.

Now a player with a lot of cash might be enticed to go to a Biz #1 property in return for dinner for two and a show. Players with less cash would likely settle for patronizing Biz #2 properties for nothing more than convenience and an occasional free drink for playing the video poker machines.

Different strokes for different strokes. Free market competition. But here’s the twist.

Let’s say a lot people like to go to Biz #2 properties and Biz #1 doesn’t like having the competition. So in the middle of the game Biz #1 goes to the Government and gets the Government to force Biz #2 to retroactively make major operational changes and expensive upgrades to its properties.

To make matters worse, after Biz #2 completes the forced upgrades, let’s say Biz #1 comes back to the Government and demands that Biz #2 be forced to make even MORE expensive upgrades and redesigns. A never-ending competitor-inspired/government-imposed business nightmare.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a game. It’s exactly what’s been going on the last couple of years – with Station Casinos being Biz #1 and Dotty’s Neighborhood Taverns being Biz #2.

Dotty’s is a great Nevada business success story. In 1995, founder Craig Estey opened six Dotty’s neighborhood taverns in Nevada. At the time, all the so-called experts predicted his business model would fail. Instead, Dotty’s took off, and now has dozens of locations all across the state.

So in 2011, Stations and other Big Gaming operators started agitating state and local governments to screw with Dotty’s successful business model and inhibit the small business’s ability to expand and compete profitably. Outrageous, real-life crony capitalism.

Oh, and get ready to play the newest spin-off version: Taxi-opoly. In this game, the Government will team up with the state’s taxicab industry to crush ride-sharing competitors such as Uber and Lyft.

Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, a conservative grassroots advocacy organization. He can be reached at www.MuthsTruths.com

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