Friday, June 27, 2014

UPDATE: Oaklawn wins again, lottery restriction bill makes the call

Posted By on Fri, Jun 27, 2014 at 12:37 PM

click to enlarge COUNTING HEADS: Eddie Armstrong.
  • COUNTING HEADS: Eddie Armstrong.
Just in from Gov. Mike Beebe's office: He WILL add the bill limiting expansion of the Arkansa lottery into keno-style games to the call of the special session next week.

An amended declaration coming shortly.

This signals hefty majority agreement to the legislation by Beebe's operating standard. It is unclear if opponents will attempt to declare gambling germane and introduce a proposal to take back an on-line gambling expansion granted to Oaklawn in 2013.

It is a pity that a deal like this can be worked out wholly behind the scenes without a single committee meeting that revealed the true lobbying forces at work here: 1) Oaklawn fighting increased competiton from the lottery 2) lottery vendors hoping to get additional business 3) college kids hoping for increased lottery revenue for scholarships from expanded games.  (Just kidding about that third one. Nobody lobbies for people in need at the Arkansas legislature.) At least Oaklawn had to buy a lot of steaks and drinks for legislators to get here.

Beebe apparently got a count he liked after this item I mentioned earlier:

Here's the latest on the Oaklawn bill to prohibit the Arkansas Lottery from adding keno-style games. It's a letter from House Democratic leader Eddie Armstrong to members.

Once again, the Governor's office is requesting an additional poll on the Keno issue. Previously the poll was on whether or not you would be in favor of the issue being added to the call. Some members who said they would be in favor of adding it to the special session also said they would vote against the issue once it was presented. Due to this information, the Governor's office wants a firm count of those who would actually vote to pass the legislation. Please email or text Representative E. Armstrong directly to let him know whether or not you would vote YES or NO for the legislation.

Some leadership from the governor. This is special interest interpleading and it can wait until the regular legislative session if it must be considered at all.

To repeat:

1) It was clear from day one that keno could be an option under the Arkansas lottery. Those who say otherwise either are lying or don't know better.

2) The likelihood of ever-expanding gambling — preying on the poor to disproportionately help middle-class people go to college — was one reason I opposed the lottery.

3) It is hypocritical — or at least stupid — to vote blindly to allow Oaklawn to have slot machines and, in 2013, on-line gambling while arguing against gambling by someone else. The Oaklawn Anywhere online gambling option added money to the pockets of the St. Louis owners of the Oaklawn casino and occasional racetrack. It drew not a single customer to Hot Springs, Ark.

4) The push for this bill isn't about morals. It's about Oaklawn.

5) If casinos are OK, why don't we have more of them. Why should a guy from St. Louis and one from Buffalo, N.Y., get a monopoly on the profits?

6) Given the need for more lottery profits to shore up the college scholarship program, perhaps those who oppose keno would support a corresponding assessment on Oaklawn revenues to make up the lost money.

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