Most bars and taverns here in Eastern Iowa have ticket machines like the one in the photo above. They pay out tickets, not cash. Those tickets are used for drinks or food in the bar that they are located in.

I've always wondered: Why do so many people play them?

I could see if they paid in real money, but they don't. If you win a jackpot, instead of having a pile of cash you have a pile of free drink tickets. So, what's the appeal?

I guess if you drink in the same bar every week there is that upside. I've also seen some people sell the tickets to other patrons in the bar. The going rate in Cedar Rapids is about fifty-cents on the dollar.

I've even heard of certain places that pay cash for the tickets. It's against the law to do that, but it's very hard to police. And that gets me to the reason for writing this blog in the first place.

Iowa needs to bring back the "TouchPlay" machines back in the state. If you remember, these were essentially slot machines in bars, gas stations and even grocery stores and they popped up all over the state.

Why did they go away you may ask?

Casino lobbyist is the short answer. The casinos were losing money, so they encouraged the state to pull them and they did just that. Businesses were out that money and people who invested in the machines lost bundles.

You see, it's okay to gamble in Iowa only if the state makes all the money. We can't smoke in bars, but we can smoke in casinos. The state is greedy, it's not right.

Back to the ticket machines, I think some people just like to gamble. My ex-girlfriend was addicted. She would dump hundreds every other week at the Westside Lounge on the SW side of Cedar Rapids.

If she won, the tickets would either get lost or she would sell them for about forty-cents on the dollar. She asked me once, "Why the hell do I even play these damn machines?"

We both laughed and ordered another beer.