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Washington Cardrooms and Bingo Act, Referendum 34 (1964)

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The Washington Cardrooms and Bingo Act, also known as Referendum 34, was on the November 3, 1964 ballot in Washington as a veto referendum, where it was defeated, thus overturning a law passed by the legislature. The measure would have relaxed laws against mechanical gambling games and devices, sales boards and trades, gambling cardrooms and bingo.[1]

Election results

Washington Referendum 34 (1964)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No622,98755.20%
Yes 505,633 44.80%

Election results via: Washington Secretary of State

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

An Act Relating to licensing by cities, towns and counties of (1) machines or mechanical devices, without automatic payoff mechanisms but permitting the registering and manual transfer of free games; (2) salesboards or sales tickets intended for trade stimulation purposes where merchandise only is despensed; (3) certain public cardroom wherein persons engage in games of skill; and providing for filing license applications and prohibiting issuance of licenses unless certain citizenship and residence requirements are satisfied; and authorizing bingo and devices commonly used as trade stimulants at county or state fairs where conducted by and for nonprofit organizations unless prohibited by local authorities.[2]

Path to the ballot

Lawsuit against emergency clause

When the gambling law was passed, it contained an emergency clause provided under Section 1 of Article II of the Washington Constitution which would prevent potential veto referendum. The referendum's sponsor Dr. Homer W. Humiston filed a lawsuit to determine whether or not the emergency clause was valid in this case. On April 11, 1963, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in a five-four vote that the emergency clause was not valid and directed the Secretary of State to accept and file the referendum.[3][4]

Signatures stolen

On June 24, 1963, The Secretary of State's office announced that the signatures had been stolen. Nonetheless, Secretary of State Victor A. Meyers notified county election officials to put the referendum on the November 3, 1964 ballot. Meyers believed that a check of the signatures would have found that sufficient signatures were filed since 48,630 signatures were needed and 82,995 signatures had been filed by Humiston. According to The Spokesman-Review, the "mystery of who stole the signatures was never solved" although the suggestion was made by a newspaper that the theft of the signatures was "a tipoff to the type of element waiting behind the scenes for the gambling gravy train to come in on November 3."[5]

Lawsuit against ballot access

On July 22, 1963, the Amusement Association of Washington filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of State challenging his decision to order the measure onto the ballot. The Thurston County Superior Court ruled in favor of the Secretary of State. The Amusement Association of Washington appealed that decision to the Washington Supreme Court. On March 26, 1964, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court's decision in an eight-one vote.[6]

See also

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