The other day when Max Brantley, editor of the ultra-liberal Arkansas Times, said I was right about how bad the lottery was going to be, I looked outside to see if any pigs were flying by. Was this the same Max Brantley whose paper just weeks ago referred to me as the most hated man in Arkansas? Yes, even Max gets it right once in a while—about the lottery that is.
Honest liberals and true conservatives mostly agree when it comes to state-run lotteries. Both know that state lotteries prey on the poor, put the state in the gambling business, create more government corruption, and fall short in delivering the money promised for education or whatever. But the Arkansas Lottery has additional problems.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporters Seth Blomley and Mike Wickline recently reported that the “transparent” lottery law unanimously passed by the Arkansas Legislature actually repealed portions of our existing ban on all types of gambling, including slot machines, roulette, keno, and horse racing. This means Arkansas is just one lottery commission vote away from having state-run miniature casinos in local convenience stores, all under the banner of “the lottery.”
Of course, Ernie Passailaigue, our $324,000 per year lottery director, has promised restraint—no video lottery games he says, but “monitor games” will be allowed instead. He probably refers to manholes as maintenance portals too.
When we said that Bill Halter’s lottery amendment would lead to state-run casinos, most people didn’t believe it. When I testified before the Senate and House State Agencies Committees and told them that the lottery enabling legislation being proposed was bad, most legislators didn’t believe it. After all, every member of the Arkansas Legislature voted for this bad law.
John Lyon, a reporter for Arkansas News Bureau, asked me if I felt vindicated. Yes, but it’s no fun being proven right about something that is so wrong.