Mississippi Gamblers (Editorial)

by Arkansas Business Editors  on Monday, Aug. 18, 2003 12:00 am  

Like the police captain in "Casablanca," we're shocked — shocked — to learn that Mississippi casino operators bank-rolled the opposition to expanding legalized gambling in Arkansas.

An Internal Revenue Service filing shows that Southern Research Group, a consulting firm to several Mississippi casinos, anted up some $570,000 to "Arkansans for the 21st Century." And that group worked feverishly during this year's legislative session to defeat measures that would have let Garland and Crittenden County voters decide whether to allow electronic wagering and video poker at Oaklawn Park and Southland Greyhound Park.

How much did the group receive from like-minded Arkansans? Only $1,300.

We suspect that many Arkansans do oppose gambling, but the facts suggest the Arkansans for the 21st Century campaign was not anti-gambling but anti-competition.

It's been estimated that Arkansans spent (that is, lost) some $3.8 billion in Mississippi last year, so the half-million spent to protect that revenue stream looks like a pretty good bet — but a sucker's way to decide policy.



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