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IF LOTTERIES are the voluntary taxes on the poor and ignorant, what are casinos? The crack houses?

Last we heard, the casinos law, called Issue 4 on your ballot, was still in the courts. Whether the state will be able to count votes the night of Nov. 6th is up to a judge or two. Better safe than sorry, though: It’s going to be on your ballot, Mr. and Mrs. Arkansan, so vote against it.

Why do Arkansans need casinos in our lives? Answer: We don’t. Have you been south of the state border lately? Have casinos and riverboats done much for Louisiana’s highways? Have casinos and riverboats cleaned up Mississippi’s roads? Or its corruption?

Issue 4 would allow the state Racing Commission to issue casino licenses to applicants from West Memphis to Pine Bluff to Hot Springs.

It seems that only yesterday we were screaming bloody murder, or at least bloody theft, about the lottery. Remember how that legal numbers racket was going to solve all of Arkansas’ financial woes? Now there’s a separate line at many filling stations, just for people to scratch their lives away—and the rent. Now those pushing more gambling want to double-down, as in blackjack, to take more disposable income away from restaurants and movie theaters and water parks. All so those lucky few with the licenses can make it rich.

And rich they will become. They don’t build casinos with the money won by gamblers at their tables. But in this state, the people rule. It’s the state motto. And voters can’t take anything for granted. Remember when passing a “medical” marijuana law was all but impossible in this generally conservative state?

If a body really wanted to know who’d benefit from casinos in Arkansas, he’d only have to look at who’s putting money behind them. Hint: It ain’t the unemployed guy down the street looking for a dealing gig.

Last reports in this paper showed the committee in charge of the casino lobby reported a total of $2.48 million in contributions. The Quapaw Tribe in Oklahoma donated $1.4 million and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma gave $1.05 million. They will want a return on that investment. If Issue 4 passes, do you think they’ll get it? In a word, yes. In two words, yes indeed. For the house always gets its cut first.

AND, of course, there’ll have to be government oversight of an expanded gambling empire in the Natural State. More state workers to watch the casinos, more state workers to audit the casinos, more state workers to promote the casinos. If the house always gets its cut first, then the state House and Senate will get theirs, too, if We the People allow it. Remember when the lottery was first introduced in this state? A man by the name of Big Ernie Passailaigue was made executive director of the just a-borning lottery office. And was paid $324,000 a year to midwife it. Talk about hitting the jackpot!

Who’ll get in on the action, besides the Oklahoma tribes?

Let’s not find out.

Instead, let’s vote against Issue 4 early next month. Voters should take it out of the hands of a few judges, and out of the hands of would-be pit bosses.

Print Headline: Against Issue 4


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  • hurricane46
    October 5, 2018 at 12:50 p.m.

    There has to be a better way to get real casinos in Arkansas than issue 4. If passed it will only help Oaklawn and Southland. Why put a casino near Russellvile or PB?. Pattern the bill after the one that brought gaming to MS. Put a casino near Texarkana to get Texas dollars, a couple on the river at FS to get the money from the Indian casinos in OK, and one near Harrison to get some of that Branson money. Jobs will be created, people say they will bring crime, hello!, we already have crime. People will gamble no matter what, but it is adult fun and is fine if done in moderation, like anything else.

  • RBBrittain
    October 6, 2018 at 1:52 p.m.

    Hurricane46, I believe it will help Southland but NOT Oaklawn. Southland needs the additional authority in Issue 4 -- especially sports wagering, which Mississippi just legalized -- to keep Tunica from making a comeback; but any gain to Oaklawn from that would be more than offset by casino business lost to Russellville & Pine Bluff.
    I disagree with this article's attack on the lottery, but I think it only scratches the surface as to why the Cherokee & Quapaw are its chief backers (its ONLY backers till Southland signed on). Under Federal law, once we let specific types of gambling in the state, Native American tribes that were once here can operate the same type of gambling ANYWHERE in their former territory in that state (possibly their last recognized territory). Russellville is in the last recognized Cherokee territory, basically everything between the Arkansas & White Rivers west of a diagonal from Morrilton to west of Batesville (but not quite all of NWA). Pine Bluff is in the last recognized Quapaw territory, basically everything south of the Arkansas River & east of a line due south from LR's namesake rock (now the Junction Bridge site). I predict NO ONE will try to compete with the Cherokee in Russellville *or* the Quapaw in Pine Bluff, because they can use Federal law to open competing casinos in those cities PLUS anywhere else within their former territories (including eastern LR for the Quapaw and parts of NWA for the Cherokee). This seems to be a backdoor to enable Native American casinos almost anywhere in Arkansas, with their competition limited to Southland and (if it survives) Oaklawn. I haven't decided yet, but I'm leaning against Issue 4 for that very reason.

  • RBBrittain
    October 6, 2018 at 2:11 p.m.

    Don't underestimate the power of these tribes either. The Cherokee operate several big casinos, from the Hard Rock Casino in Tulsa (name licensed from the Seminole Tribe of Florida which now owns the Hard Rock brand) to big casinos in West Siloam Springs & Roland. The Quapaw turned a narrow strip of land at the end of the Will Rogers Turnpike bordering both Missouri (near Joplin) & Kansas into a profitable casino, then got the Feds to approve expanding it into Kansas over that state's opposition. If they think they can make money on casinos in Arkansas, they will; the only thing holding them back is they might be restricted in offering anything beyond what Oaklawn & Southland have now. And other tribes could follow elsewhere in the state, including the Osage and possibly Choctaw tribes.