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Don’t Sign Those Casino Petitions (Editorial)

2 min read

THIS IS AN OPINION

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Remember back in 2008, when Arkansas voters, almost certainly out of ignorance, approved an amendment to the state Constitution that requires the Legislature to meet twice as often as it used to?

Amendment 86, fortunately, is fairly benign. But the fresh memory of such an improbable change in the Constitution makes it seem even more urgent to keep a couple of very bad amendments off the ballot this year.

Both of these must-fail amendments would permit casino gambling in Arkansas, the advisability of which is another subject for another day. These two proposals should be rejected even by voters who believe that Arkansas needs to be more like Las Vegas and Tunica. Unlike laws that permit casinos to operate in Nevada and Mississippi – and anywhere except perhaps Indian reservations – these amendments would prohibit competition. Instead, the amendments being promoted by a Texan named Michael Wasserman and a professional poker player from Vegas named Nancy Todd would write their respective companies – Arkansas Hotels & Entertainment Inc. and Nancy Todd’s Poker Palace & Entertainment Ventures LLC – into the Arkansas Constitution.

An equally bad amendment by some other Texans who wanted their casino company written into our Constitution collected enough signatures to get on the ballot in 2000. And polls showed that Arkansans were evenly split on that until its backers were charged with felony securities fraud just before the election.

Arkansans since have become more comfortable with gambling, as evidenced by approval of the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery and electronic gambling at Oaklawn and Southland. But a constitutionally protected casino monopoly is unacceptable. Keep both proposals off the ballot. Don’t sign the petitions.

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