Casino amendment has signatures to make ballot | Arkansas Blog

Friday, September 14, 2012

Casino amendment has signatures to make ballot

Posted By on Fri, Sep 14, 2012 at 2:45 PM

CAMPAIGN LEADER: Nancy Todd, shown here after winning a poker tournament, is leading the casino drive.
  • CAMPAIGN LEADER: Nancy Todd, shown here after winning a poker tournament, is leading the casino drive.
David Goins of Fox 16 reports that the secretary of state's office has completed review of signatures on the constitutional amendment to allow four casinos in Arkansas by a Missouri-financed business group using Nancy Todd as a figurehead for the campaign. The drive had fallen short at the initial deadline, but submitted enough signatures to qualify for an extension to gain more and, using paid canvassers, apparently got the job done. Goins says the drive amassed more than 95,000 signatures, 18,000 more than needed. Here's the official letter.

Signatures alone won't get the measure to the ballot. A challenge is underway to its validity before the Arkansas Supreme Court. The Family Council, the conservative religious lobby; a group financed by an existing casino at Southland Park, and Secretary of State Mark Martin are among those fighting a vote on the proposal. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has flip-flopped on the issue.

If the Supreme Court buys opponents' arguments that a potential impact on other aspects of Arkansas life must be fully and completely disclosed for a constitutional amendment, seems to me it would be the end of initiated amendments. What about the highway sales tax? Won't that tax increase reduce citizens discretionary spending? Shouldn't that be disclosed?

The casino amendment — written to provide an absolute minimum of legislative regulation and to give a monopoly to a single operator over casinos in the state — is not good government. But why not let the voters be the judge of that. Wonder if statewide voters would have approved had Oaklawn and Southland asked for their approval of "electronic games of skill." Would a court have required them to disclose fully that these games really amounted to full-fledged casino gambling and give racetracks a monopoly on such operations?

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