Gambling ballot news, 2

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For loading and reference purposes, this news section has been divided into two parts. For reference of older articles, visit Section 1: 9/4/2008 - Present.


Alaska: All 4 ballot measures fail at polls

8/28/2008: Voters were not in the mood to support any of the state's ballot measures in Tuesday's (8/26/2008) primary.

From gambling to a controversial mining law all four were defeated.

Ballot Measure 1 would have created a state gaming commission. Currently, state law only allows charitable gambling.

Had it passed, the new commission would have had authority to allow for-profit gaming like lotteries and casino games.

Ballot Measure 2, dealing with aerial predator control, also failed.[1]

With 98% of precincts reporting, Amendment One, Gambling Commission, failed with 38% for and 62% against. Amendment 2, Wolf Protection, failed with 44% for and 56% against. Amendment 3, Clean Elections, failed with 35% for and 65% against. Amendment 4, Clean Water, failed with 43% for and 57% against.[2]

Alaska: Voters cool to election funding, gaming measures

8/27/2008: Alaska voters on Tuesday were rejecting ballot measures that would have created a Gaming Commission and that would have established a voluntary program of public funding for state election campaigns.

With almost 60 percent of the statewide vote counted, Ballot Measure 1 and Ballot Measure 3 were losing by substantial margins.

The Gaming Commission, which would have been created under Ballot Measure 1, could have expanded gambling by allowing slot machines, poker rooms, lotteries or any form of waging game.

The seven-member commission would have been created within the state Department of Revenue under Ballot Measure 1.

Only legislators now have authority to expand gambling.

Supporters said allowing more gambling would attract tourists and keep revenue within Alaska that is now going to Nevada or online gambling sites.

Opponents contended gambling can lead to societal ills such as child neglect, divorce, bankruptcies and debt-driven crimes.

To qualify for public funding under the terms of Ballot Measure 3, candidates would have had to collect a certain number of signatures and $5 campaign contributions from voters in the area in which the candidate is seeking office.

Candidates who agreed to limits for campaign fundraising and spending would have received campaign funding from the state. According to the ballot measure, that person could have received state matching funds if his or her opponent did not take part in the program.[3]


Alaska: Gambling invites unwanted problems

8/19/2008: I'm no war history buff but tactical strategies used in the past intrigue me. During the Trojan War, the Greeks couldn't muster up what was needed to get into Troy so they built a large wooden horse with a hollowed-out belly for soldiers to hide in. The Trojans marveled at the creation and ushered it into their city. That night, when people were asleep or in a drunken stupor, the Greek warriors came out from inside the horse and slaughtered the Trojans.

Mark Twain has said that while history doesn't necessarily repeat itself, it rhymes.

Alaskans go to the polls soon to cast their vote on Ballot Measure 1, an effort to create the Alaska Gaming Commission that will indisputably have the ability to expand gambling in our state.

Here's why the Trojan Horse analogy works.

Those pushing this measure have tried to expand gambling in Alaska legislatively and they've failed each time. This effort, they insist, is simply about enhanced regulation of current charitable gaming activities.

They state that Ballot Measure 1 will "only create a Gaming Commission" and that the "initiative, in itself, would NOT increase gambling in Alaska." Sounds a bit defensive doesn't it? If that truly is the case, why does Ballot Measure 1 say that "The Alaska Gaming Commission is established for the purposes of generating revenue for the state" and that the commission will have the ability to "authorize gaming activities?"

They claim that the "will of the people, not the Legislature, would decide what gaming activities would or would not be authorized." Really? Three members of the seven-person commission will "constitute a quorum for the transaction of business." And what is their business? Having "the authority to allow games of chance, such as lotteries and casino games, in the future." How do three people represent the "will of the people?"[4]

Alaska shouldn't roll the dice with a gaming commission

8/20/2008: With mining and wolves dominating the news and advertising lately, Alaskans haven’t heard much about the measure on Tuesday’s ballot that would create an Alaska Gaming Commission.

If they look closer, they won’t find a pretty picture.

Ballot Measure 1 would establish a seven-member commission to decide which forms of gambling ought to be allowed in Alaska. The commission would be appointed by the governor, insulating it somewhat from public opinion, but that’s not a fatal flaw; the state has many such commissions that work well.

However, the state doesn’t usually turn over traditional lawmaking functions to such commissions. The forms of gambling allowed in Alaska are set in law and should continue to be set there by legislators, not by appointed commission members.

Ballot Measure 1 also should serve as Exhibit No. 1 in the case against making complicated laws via the initiative process.

Consider section 5, titled “regulations,” which purports to outline where gaming activities may be conducted but contains layers of exceptions and conditions. The language comes as close to incomprehensible as anything one will find in Alaska law, in part because its effects appear to depend on whether voters later pass another initiative on video lottery terminals.

How can Alaskans be expected to figure out what’s being proposed here? This is why we have a Legislature — to do the difficult work of analyzing such proposals before they become law. Voting for this measure would be an ill-advised gamble.

Supporters of this initiative, in the state election guide, conclude their case with a humorously backfiring statement: “The majority of Alaskans can seldom agree on any one issue. This is one of them!”

Let’s hope so.[5]


Missouri: Two lawsuits challenge Missouri casino ballot measure

8/14/2008: A ballot measure that would eliminate the loss limits at Missouri casinos and cap the number of licensed gambling boats was challenged by two lawsuits filed Thursday in Jefferson City.

Both lawsuits seek to block the measure from being on the Nov. 4 ballot, arguing that the measure covers more than one subject in violation of the Missouri Constitution. Cape Girardeau businessman David Knight and Rep. Ray Salva, D-Sugar Creek, are the lead plaintiffs in one lawsuit; the other was filed on behalf of two St. Louis-area residents and is backed by Casino Watch, a group that has consistently opposed the expansion of gambling in Missouri.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Knight and Salva also challenges the proposal based on other sections of the Missouri Constitution and state law. The lawsuit alleges that the proposal:

  • Takes away the power to permit gambling on the Mississippi and Missouri rivers granted to the Missouri Legislature by the constitution.
  • Diverts gambling revenue dedicated to higher education to elementary and secondary schools.
  • Violates the constitution's prohibition on granting an "exclusive right, privilege or immunity" to a corporation, individual or association.
  • Violates the constitution's Bill of Rights by denying people the ability to "enjoy the gains of their own industry" by blocking new casino licenses.
  • Violates state law by failing to mention that some local governments could lose revenue because no casino will be allowed in their jurisdiction.
  • Violates state law by failing to include a notice that it repeals by inference a law granting the Missouri Gaming Commission control over the number of licenses granted to any city or county.[6]


Alaska: A bet worth placing?

8/13/2008: Depending on who you ask, Measure 1 is either a sensible effort to rationalize Alaska’s confusing, inconsistent and corruptible gambling laws or a Trojan Horse, meant to expand gambling in Alaska.

But figuring the difference between what the law’s words mean and predicting the consequences of that same law are two different things. The latter is a guessing game,like guessing how heavy the heaviest giant cabbage entered in the Alaska Sate Fair will be. There are guesses and opinions; informed opinions and informed guesses.

Certainly the law would create a commission empowered to regulate gambling. Certainly the commission could approve new games.

But will it?

The commission, says Measure One booster Darwin Biwer, is “not going to do anything radical. They’re going to do the will of the people. Not the will of the Legislature, and not the will of any one single committee chairman.”

Biwer, who owns the bar Darwin’s Theory in downtown Anchorage, isn’t happy with the current state of gaming in Alaska (he’s in the camp that calls it “gaming” instead of “gambling”). The seven-member commission would be appointed by the governor and subject to confirmation by the state legislature. That’s a strong check on the commission’s power, Biwer says.

Jim Minnery, president of Alaska Family Council says it isn’t. His organization’s stance is simple. Any legal gambling is too much; the state shouldn’t be involved in gambling because of its social costs. And, Measure One proponents aren’t being honest about their initiative, Minnery says.

“What they’ve done is snuck in the Trojan horse. They have not been very vocal about that. They are cloaking this initiative in the issue of enhanced enforcement,” Minnery says, adding, “When you read the statute, it says very specifically that the commission may authorize any future form of gaming.”

Alaska has a history of shutting doors on gambling. In 1995 the Alaska Legislature put a stop to the once popular Monte Carlo nights, short-term events where players would purchase chips to play casino-style games. Not-for-profit organizations would take in cash. Players won donated prizes rather than cash. Lawmakers were afraid of casinos opening on Alaska Native land, so they nixed Monte Carlo nights, legal games that looked a lot like exchanging tickets for children’s prizes at Chuck E. Cheese, the pizza parlor where games pay out in tickets.

“They took away our Monte Carlo nights and that was the biggest fundraiser for Fur Rendezvous,” Biwer said. And he doesn’t think the fear of Monte Carlo nights leading to Native casinos was realistic. “It wouldn’t, but they didn’t do their research.”[7]


Ohio: Poll: Voters support plans for Ohio casino

8/13/2008: Ohio voters have given a thumbs-down to gambling initiatives three times in the past two decades, but a new poll puts naysayers for the latest casino push in the minority.

A poll from the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute found that 60 percent of 1,342 surveyed likely Ohio voters support an initiative to OK the state’s first gambling casino, with 35 percent opposing. When asked their position on legalized casino gambling in the state, results were similar, with 61 percent supporting and 34 percent opposing.

If enough of the 800,000 signatures casino backers MyOhioNow.com submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office last week are certified, voters will get their chance in November’s general election to approve or quash the plan, which would see a $600 million resort developed midway between Columbus and Cincinnati, off Interstate 71 at Route 73. The project would include a 220,000-square-foot casino with as many as 5,000 slot machines, 100 gaming tables and a 1,500-room hotel.[8]


Colorado: Gambling stakes increase on state ballot

8/8/2008: A proposed amendment that would allow Colorado’s casino towns to decide whether to increase bet limits to $100 from the current $5 has been approved for November’s ballot.

The limited gaming measure, which will be designated as Amendment 50, received an estimated 88,965 valid signatures based on a random sample of those delivered to the secretary of state’s office on July 25.

The proposal calls for allowing Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek to be able to call local elections to decide whether they want to expand bet limits. It would also allow residents of the towns to decide whether they want expanded casino hours and to have craps and roulette added to the games local casinos offer.[9]


Higher-stakes gambling certified for Nov. ballot

8/8/2008: Under the initiative, the distribution of gaming-tax revenue up to the amount collected in the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2007, would remain unchanged, with 22 percent going to the gambling towns, 50 percent to the state general fund and 28 percent to statewide historic preservation.

The measure would earmark 78 percent of any increases in revenue beyond fiscal 2007 levels to the state's community and junior colleges. The remaining 22 percent would go to the gambling jurisdictions.

Raising the bet limit to $100, adding new games and extending operating hours would nearly double the state's gaming-tax revenue within five years, according to a preliminary report by Gov. Bill Ritter's planning and budgeting staff.

By the fifth year, the state would collect an estimated $158 million in gaming taxes on top of the $191 million the casino industry would generate if those changes weren't made, the report states.[10]


Casino Backed Measure Makes Nov. Ballot

8/10/2008: Gambling addiction counselor Dr. J. Michael Faragher said because gambling is so available, as close as the Internet, he'd like to see Colorado's proposal include treatment funding for the gambling casualties.

"Anytime you increase the accessibility or availability of something like gambling, there's going to be an increase in the number of people that have problems with it," Faragher said. "With the increased revenue, I think we need to look at setting aside money for treatment, prevention and education. And I don't think that's been done."[11]


Missouri: Missouri’s loss-limit measure makes November election

8/6/2008: Missouri voters will take up the state’s unique loss limits in the November election.

The initiative petition to put the measure on the ballot has been certified, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said in a Tuesday release.

For years, Missouri casinos have urged the General Assembly to repeal loss limits, which prevent gamblers from buying more than $500 of chips or tokens in a two-hour period. With progress toward the first state-owned, privately managed destination casino in Wyandotte County, Missouri casinos are betting on voters to buy into the so-called Yes for Schools First campaign. A group financed by casino operators on May 2 handed in more than 160,000 voter signatures supporting its initiative.

The measure would permanently erase loss limits, restrict the number of casinos in the state to those already built or under construction and require only proof of age to enter a casino.

The initiative also would increase the casino gambling tax from 20 percent to 21 percent and dedicate the proceeds to Missouri schools, as well as require annual audits of the fund. The extra 1 percent tax would yield an estimated $105.1 million to $130 million annually for elementary and secondary schools, plus $5 million to $7 million for higher education, early childhood development, veterans and other programs. Local governments where casinos are located would get about $18.1 million to $19 million a year.

For certification, petitions had to have valid signatures from at least 5 percent of the number of registered voters who cast ballots in the 2004 governor’s election from six of Missouri’s nine congressional districts. That’s about 86,000 to 95,000 signatures, depending on the districts.[12]

Big biz group backs loss limit repeal

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has endorsed the gambling industry’s proposal to repeal the $500 loss limit, the last remnant of rules voters approved when they legalized riverboat gambling in 1992.

Dan Mehan, president and CEO of the chamber, says in a news release that the initiative “is important for schools and for our economy.” He says it will “keep visitors, jobs and revenues here in Missouri.”

State officials have estimated that the tax increase would generate between $105 million and $130 million for public schools.

Ameristar Casinos and Pinnacle Entertainment circulated petitions to get the initiative on the ballot. They are worried that new competition in Kansas will draw business from Missouri.[13]


Missouri: Casino, home health care petitions make Mo. ballot

8/5/2008: Missourians in November will be asked to vote on two initiative petitions.

One would repeal the state's cap on gambling losses, bar construction of new casinos and increase the tax rate casinos pay from 20 percent to 21 percent. The other ballot measure would allow home health care providers to form unions.

A concerned citizen, Spencer Chaffin said "I am not in favor of lifting the limits on gambling. We have too many addicted gamblers and the limit only partially helps them control their addiction."[14]


Ohio: My Ohio Now delivers 800,000 signatures for casino measure

8/5/2008:

On Tuesday, August 5th, the organization My Ohio Now went well over the minimum number 402,275 petitioners for the Ohio Casino Measure (2008) and will likely have more than enough votes to put the measure on the ballot on November 4th.

The organization released a statement today that stated, in part:

"This has been an exciting opportunity to reach out to Ohio voters in all 88 counties. The response has been overwhelmingly favorable. We are very appreciative of the effort of hundreds of Ohioans who have helped us in this effort to place this issue on the November 4th ballot. Ohioans are excited for this positive economic news. The prospect of up to 5000 new jobs is a bright spot in a year in which we have faced so much financial adversity and challenges. We look forward to a positive and honest campaign to get the support of Ohio voters. We look towards our opposition to come from casinos in states that neighbor Ohio, as they have enjoyed the economic benefits from Ohioans for many years. When this issue passes, their free lunch will end," said Rick Lertzman, co-founder of MyOhioNow.com.[15]


US moralists losing war against gambling

8/5/2008:

As more and more states turn to casinos and gambling to fill shrinking budget coffers, the voices of the religious opposition are struggling to convince people that it is morally wrong.

It’s an uphill fight: A recent study by Ellison Research showed that 70 percent of Americans do not consider gambling to be a sin.

“It’s not acceptable in today’s society to present arguments based solely on religion or morals,” said I. Nelson Rose, who teaches gambling law at the Whittier Law School in California.

Forty-three states have lotteries, mostly marketed as voluntary taxes for education, and 12 states now have commercial casinos.

Gambling contributes around 5 percent to state budgets—double what it was five years ago, said the Rev. Richard McGowan, a Boston College professor and author of The Gambling Debate, published in January.

Grey, who fought gambling for years from the pulpit as a United Methodist pastor, said the moral argument that gambling is a sin is too easily swept aside as impeding the personal freedom of others.

As a result, Grey’s anti-gambling coalition avoids explicit mentions of religion, and presents more economically grounded arguments that center around addiction, bankruptcy and crime, Grey said.

“There’s a cost when people lose—they chase the loss,” Grey said. “It’s the government’s dirty little secret. The house always wins.”

Some states, such as Kansas, Maryland, Kentucky and Massachusetts, are in various stages of trying to expand the gambling options they already have.

A voter referendum that would put 15,000 slot machines at various racetracks and other locations will be on the Maryland ballot in November. The projected $600 million that the slots would produce would be unsteady, and an unfair tax on the poor, Knickelbein said.[16]


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