Early this morning the state legislature did what no one has done in the past five years: They told the Arkansas Lottery “No.”
The Lottery Commission has gotten its way on virtually every major decision since the spring of 2009. Many lawmakers have been reluctant to regulate the Lottery, because they were all assured the best way to make the Lottery successful was to give the Lottery Commission as much leeway as possible.
All that changed when Lottery Commissioners openly defied the will of the legislators by voting to roll out lottery “monitor games” this fall. These games—which operate like Keno, a popular casino game, and bingo—would be installed and played across the state.
Understandably, many lawmakers have concerns about miniature casinos popping up in towns all over Arkansas. A little after midnight this morning, lawmakers took a final vote to delay implementation of the monitor games until March 13, 2015; by then lawmakers hope to have had a chance to examine the issue more thoroughly. Senator Hickey (R-Texarkana) has already said he plans to file legislation to ban the monitor games altogether when the Legislature convenes for its 2015 session.
This is a major victory! We emailed you earlier this week to ask you to call members of the Arkansas House of Representatives about this issue. A number of you contacted us to say you called, emailed, and texted your lawmakers. You helped make this morning’s vote happen. Way to go!
Thanks to you, we have beaten the Lottery—for now.
You can bet lobbyists for the lottery vendors and retailers will be pressuring lawmakers between now and the end of the year. I firmly believe we can stop monitor games and begin reining in the Lottery in January, when the legislature convenes. The key is going to be public support.
Only one legislator actually voted against the measure to block the monitor games (Representative Mark Perry, D-Jacksonville), so the chances are your state representative and state senator voted to postpone the games. Please call your representative and your senator; thank them both for opposing monitor games in Arkansas, and ask them to support any legislation to block the games permanently when the legislature reconvenes next year.
Jerry is the founder and president of Family Council. He began Family Council in 1989 after a successful effort to amend the Arkansas Constitution to prevent the use of public funds for abortions. He and his wife reside in Little Rock. They have four sons.