Alaska Gaming Commission, Measure 1 (August 2008)

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The Alaska Gaming Commission Initiative, also known as Measure 1, was on the August 26, 2008 ballot in Alaska as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was defeated. The measure would have established a seven-member board of commissioners who would have been appointed by the governor and confirmed by the legislature to five-year terms. The commission would have authorized and regulated gambling facilities.[1]

Election results

Alaska Measure 1 (August 2008)
Defeatedd No116,67061.36%
Yes 73,463 38.64%

Election results via: Alaska Department of Elections

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[2]

This initiative would create a seven-member gaming commission in the state Department of Revenue, and change gaming laws. The commission would employ a director, make contracts, adopt regulations, investigate and enforce gaming laws. The commission would have authority to allow games of chance, such as lotteries and casino games, in the future. It could join other states in multi-state gaming. The director would supervise gaming activities, and enforce charitable gaming laws. The initiative would make certain acts related to gaming a felony. Gaming allowed by the new law would be exempted from the criminal prohibition against gambling.

Should this initiative become law?


Ballot summary

The following ballot summary was prepared by the Legislative Affairs Agency:[2]

This would create a body called the Alaska Gaming Commission. The members of the body would be appointed by the governor. Some members of the body would have to have special training or backgrounds. The body would over- see existing gaming by qualified groups, cities, and boroughs. The body would also be permitted to allow new types of gaming to be conduct- ed by other persons under rules set by the body. The body could hire a director and other persons to assist the body in performing its duties.[3]


The logo of Darwin's Theory, the bar owned by Darwin Biwer.

The campaign in support of Measure 1 was led by Alaskans for Gaming Reform. The group was headed by Darwin Biwer, owner of the bar Darwin's Theory.[1]


Supporters argued that the commission would provide for reform and regulation of gaming in Alaska.[1]

Darwin Biwer said, "This is 'Alaskans for Gaming Reform,' not 'Alaskans for Gaming Casinos.' The gaming commission would have the authority to administer, monitor, authorize and enforce all gaming activities. Right now, there is no enforcement."[1]

Campaign contributions

Campaign cash Invest.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $109,234
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $0
Total: $109,234

Alaskans for Gaming Reform collected a total of $109,234 dollars in support of Measure 1.[4]

The largest donors were:[4]

Donor Amount
Alaska Cabaret Hotel, Restaurant & Retailers Association $28,337
Darwin's Theory, Biwer's bar $25,000
Darwin Biwer, owner of Darwin's Theory $20,577

Follow the Money provided the following information regarding the campaign finance for Measure 1:

Darwin A. Biwer, Jr., chair of the committee, owner of Darwin's Theory, and "the world's biggest seller of Cinnamon Schnapps," gave a total of $45,577, or 41 percent of the committee's total. Bars as a group gave a total of $44,750, or 40 percent of the total.[3]



There were no official committees registered in opposition to Measure 1. A legislative task force, however, consisting of lawmakers and citizens, argued that establishing a gaming commission was a bad idea because the commission could expand gambling in Alaska.[1]

The Alaska Family Council and Eagle Forum also opposed the initiative.


Opponents argued that the initiative was simply a way to expand gambling masquerading as a reform and law enforcement measure.[1]

Jim Minnery, President of the Alaska Family Council, said that the proponents were not being honest about the initiative. He elaborated, "What they've done is snuck a Trojan horse. They have not been very vocal about that. They are cloaking this initiative in the issue of enhanced enforcement. When you read the statute, it says very specifically that the commission may authorize any future form of gaming." [5]

Media editorial positions

  • Anchorage Daily News said, "Alaskans will figure out in a hurry that this initiative is about one thing and one thing only: expansion of gambling in Alaska. Video gambling, casino gambling, poker tables and anything that fetches a sure buck for the house and maybe seduces those inclined to bet. Please, let's not try to pass this off as reform or better law enforcement. Sell it for what it is, a call to Alaskans to place their bets in more venues with more games, with those in the bar and entertainment business ready to profit."[6]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Alaska

Alaskans for Gaming Reform turned in 50,405 signatures. Biwer, who headed the committee, said, "It took a year and $100,000, but we jumped through all the hoops." The Alaska Department of Elections required 31,451 valid signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot.[1]

See also

Suggest a link

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Juneau Empire, "Gaming commission initiative sponsors turn in signatures," September 12, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 Alaska Department of Elections, "2008 Official Election Pamphlet: Ballot Measures," accessed February 11, 2015
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Follow the Money, "Alaska 2008 Primary, Measure 1," accessed January 21, 2014
  5. Jim Minnery was interviewed by Scott Christiansen of the Anchorage Daily News in 2008. Although the interview is no longer available, an original was emailed to Ballotpedia staff in January 2014.
  6. Juneau Empire, Anchorage Daily News editorial, "Alaska editorial: Initiative is an attempt to expand gambling," September 22, 2006