Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gambling fight unsettled as special session nears

Posted By on Wed, Jun 25, 2014 at 3:18 PM

click to enlarge THAT WAS THEN: The legislature didn't object to gambling expansion for Oaklawn. But now that it's the lottery, which provides scholarships, it's another matter.
  • THAT WAS THEN: The legislature didn't object to gambling expansion for Oaklawn. But now that it's the lottery, which provides scholarships, it's another matter.
Proponents of a bill to prevent the Arkansas lottery from expanding into video lottery games at multiple outlets haven't given up trying to prove to Gov. Mike Beebe that they have sufficient votes to pass the measure without controversy.

The session is set for three days starting Monday. Beebe only wants items with broad support. On the agenda now are changes in the school health insurance program and extra money for prisons.

Said Matt DeCample:

Vote counts are still going on. Governor has told legislative supporters that he needs to see the same significant majority that the other two issues have garnered.

This fight is led out front by gambling opponents who oppose expansion. But reliable sources tell me — believably — that lobbyists for the Oaklawn casino in Hot Springs are doing the heavy lifting behind the scenes to round up support for the bill. They don't want additional competition to pop up at bars, convenience stores and other outlets up and down Central Avenue that could cut into Oaklawn's casino gambling take. It and Southland in West Memphis have the sole rights to ooperate casinos in Arkansas now.

Fighting back are lottery vendors who'd like the business of selling more systems for gambling into Arkansas.

Heads you lose. Tails you lose. That's how gambling works.

Except .... casino profits go primarily into the pockets of the casino owner. Lottey profits go to college scholarships.

If expansion of gambling is such a bad thing, you wonder why these heated-up legislators passed online wagering for Oaklawn at the 2013 session with barely a peep of protest?

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