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"I'm funny how? I mean funny like I'm a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I'm here to amuse you?"

--Joe Pesci in Goodfellas

(the family newspaper version)

Apparently this new outfit called Arcade Arkansas has been collecting signatures in our state since September, and we've missed it. Until Sunday's paper, that is. Then we saw not only a story about Arcade Arkansas, but a full-page ad in the A section protesting against it.

According to the paper, Arcade Arkansas wants to put a constitutional amendment before voters that "would authorize coin-operated amusement machines."

Coin-operated amusement machines? Is that a euphemism for something else?

The folks at the Arkansas Secretary of State's office were able to send us the ballot title for this thing. And boy, what an impressive title. It takes up a whole page--typed and single-spaced. Whoever wrote it made abundant use of semicolons.

Apparently, the proposal would give the lottery authority over these amusement machines. And every bit of the 20 percent tax would go to the lottery's coffers.

Yet the director of the Arkansas Lottery isn't amused by these amusement machines: The proposal "ultimately would cost the students of Arkansas millions of dollars in proceeds," Bishop Woosley said. "The 20 percent tax on amusement machines will never offset the loss and cost of enforcement and the increased gaming competition that the lottery would face."

Wait uh minute. Increased gaming competition? Something told us that these coin-operated amusement machines weren't Pac-Man--that something being that supporters must have a constitutional amendment to make them legal. But gaming?

Talk Business & Politics had a story over the summer that said these amusement machines would take some skill. And would allow players to receive "redeemable prizes" like cheap merchandise worth less than five bucks, certain other toys and novelties or . . . .

Lottery tickets.

Yet the lottery's director is against the whole idea.

It's all as clear as mud--an attribute of all con games, whether Three-card Monte or something more legal, like a state-sponsored numbers racket. Until "coin-operated amusement machines" are better defined, and explained to We the People, we advise voters not to sign any canvassing paperwork. Or, as the people behind this measure might understand, we'd fold this hand.

Editorial on 02/26/2020

Print Headline: Amusement machines?


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