The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

27 February 2004

Crapshoots R Us

Michael Bates calls Senate Bill 553, the bill to allow an expansion of gaming, "a typical Okie stitch-up," and explains:

SB 553 will only allow certain favored groups and individuals to get in on the act, and since the legislative leaders are in control of who will get in on the act, you can bet they will be richly rewarded by these favored few once they leave office.

Which is nothing unusual where the wind comes sweeping down the plains. What should have we done?

If you're going to open the state up to casino gambling, just repeal the prohibitions against games of chance, and let anyone who wants to open a casino do so. Regulate the industry only to the extent necessary to ensure that the rules of the game are followed — no loaded dice or stacked decks.

Governor Henry, who has pushed for this measure, points out that any revenues generated will be earmarked for education, except for $250,000 allocated to the treatment of gambling addiction. This is the sort of thing that almost guarantees support from the Ed Biz, which welcomes anything that brings in more money. Bates is not impressed:

I hear that the OEA is lobbying for this bill. It's a shame that an organization that claims to be devoted to education is pushing an industry dependent on mathematical ignorance.

They are indeed pushing it. According to the OEA's Legislative Update, one of the Association's goals is:

Providing support for the gaming compact between the State of Oklahoma and the native tribes, which is likely to produce substantial new revenues for state government without a tax increase.

Read: "substantial new revenues for us."

I don't doubt for a moment that they could use the money, and it's conceivable that some of it could be used wisely, but something about all this rubs me the wrong way.

Posted at 10:12 AM to Soonerland

I'm surprised they're pushing as hard as that for it. Too often the 'dollars for education' carrot is dangled to get folks to support something like this (lotteries come to mind), and then the money is snatched back for the general fund or emergency use.

Posted by: Ted at 11:21 AM on 27 February 2004

Betting and losing can be a much more educational experience than 12 years of schooling.

Posted by: McGehee at 8:39 AM on 29 February 2004