Opposite effect

Erle Stanley Gardner in [Perry Mason and] The Case of the Singing Skirt

Ellis hesitated, then said, “All right. I have lost around ten thousand dollars there in The Big Barn. I’m now satisfied that the game was crooked. If you want to act as my attorney to recover that money, I’ll pay you fifty percent of the recovery and give you all the expense money you need to prosecute. You can hire detectives or do anything else you need to do.”

“I may be disqualified on that action,” Mason said. “I already advised your wife—gratuitously of course—that she could probably recover the community funds that had been lost gambling, regardless of whether the game was straight or crooked.”

“Mr. Mason, don’t you understand what that would do to my reputation? I’d be the laughingstock of—”

“I don’t think so,” Mason interrupted. “I think if a few women would take action of this sort, it would give the big gamblers something to think about, particularly the ones where the games are crooked.”

“On the contrary,” Ellis said with some feeling. “It would have exactly the opposite effect, Mr. Mason. The ones who were running square games couldn’t afford to stay in business. If they were faced with the prospect of having to give up their winnings when some woman filed suit claiming it was community property that her husband had lost, the ones who were running a straight game would find that the percentage was too much against them and they’d go out of business. On the other hand, the crooked gamblers would stay in business. Or I will put it this way. The gamblers who stayed in business would be crooked.”

Sounds familiar?

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