Charlie: Do you have any idea how much electricity costs?
Charlie: I didn't, either, but it turns out it's quite a racket.Does definition 2 apply here? Electricity costs are high, because companies charge high prices (and Charlie considers this to be a dishonest activity). Is that what is meant here?rack‧et / ˈrękət, ˈrękɪt / noun
1 [ singular ] informal a loud noise : The old machine used to make an awful racket .
2 [ countable ] informal a dishonest way of obtaining money, such as by threatening people or selling them illegal goods drugs/gambling/smuggling etc racket Police believe he is involved in an international smuggling racket.
→ protection racket at protection ( 5 )
3 [ countable ] ( also racquet ) a specially shaped piece of wood or metal that you use for hitting the ball in games such as tennis, that has a circle filled with tight strings at one end → bat : a tennis racket
Yes. "Racket" can refer to an illegal or dishonest activity, but in this case it's not necessarily dishonest, it's more like X company has a monopoly on a particular product or service and is able to charge whatever fee it wants because consumers have no other choice. In the case of the utility company that provides the electricity in a particular area (they paid to have the wires put in place, etc) or the utility company that provides your house with fresh water (they pay for the maintenance of the underground pipes and also the treatment plants that purify the local water), they are the one and only company that provides this service in the area and thus the consumer has to pay whatever fees are charged (if the consumer wants electricity and running water, that is). That's why consumers often gripe when they get a notice of increase enclosed in their electric bill "It's nothing but a racket!"
Thanks to technology, some former "rackets" in the US are being dismantled....for example, cable TV. Beginning in the 1970s and until the late 1980s, cable companies would bid for the "rights" to a certain geographic area. The company with the winning bid would then string up the cables around the area and then connect individual houses to their system. Because they were the only cable TV company in town, the consumer had no choice but to pay whatever fees the company charged if he wanted to see HBO, MTV, etc. But then along came satellite technology, and a method of watching premium TV channels not by having a cable connected to your house, but by receiving the signal via a microwave antenna. And because the airwaves are technically "free" - that is, no one company can lay claim to a specific geographic area - several different satellite TV companies are now competing with one another to sell their services to consumers. Instead of being forced to pay for Acme Cable, because it was the only option, Joe Public now has a vertiable menu of companies from which to choose, while each continues to offer more premium channels for less money........!