Last week the Arkansas Department of Transportation published a press release taking issue with some of the language casino proponents are using to promote a ballot proposal ahead of the November general election.
The group Driving Arkansas Forward has repeatedly implied the proposed casino amendment would provide tax revenue for highway funding. However, as we and others have pointed out, the amendment itself doesn’t allocate any tax money for road improvements.
While early drafts of the amendment would have taxed casinos to fund state highways, the version of the amendment voters likely will see this November does not. Instead, it simply says that local officials and state lawmakers will decide how to spend most of the tax money received from casinos.
In a statement last week, the Department of Transportation said that “citizens need to understand that the proposal does not direct any of the revenue to be generated from the casinos to our state’s highways, despite what some of the promotional ads are implying. . . . The fact is, the proposed Constitutional amendment regarding casino gambling is not a highway funding proposal.”
The state Highway Commission is not taking a position on the casino amendment itself, but is concerned voters will misunderstand the proposal.
It’s worth pointing out that by some estimates state and local government spend up to $10 in social services for every $1 received in tax revenue from vices like casino gambling. Gambling is linked to divorce, bankruptcy, homelessness, domestic violence, and a host of other problems. Casino tax money simply cannot compensate for the toll gambling take on the community.
Below is the Arkansas Department of Transportation’s full statement concerning the casino proposal.
LITTLE ROCK (8-29) – A proposed Constitutional amendment regarding casino gambling in Arkansas is currently in the process of obtaining certification that would allow it to appear on the ballot in the November 2018 general election. The proposed amendment would allow additional casinos to be opened in Arkansas.
The Highway Commission has no position on gambling in Arkansas – that is up to the people to decide should the issue be certified for the ballot. However, the Commission believes the citizens need to have a clear understanding of the proposal. Specifically, citizens need to understand that the proposal does not direct any of the revenue to be generated from the casinos to our state’s highways, despite what some of the promotional ads are implying.
This proposal is being promoted by a group calling itself Driving Arkansas Forward. They continue to use language and promotional materials that are leading people to believe that the proposed amendment would provide much needed new funding for our state’s highways. That is simply not the case. Of the tax revenue estimated to be generated from the casinos, more than half (55%) is being directed to the state’s General Fund. None is being directed to the state’s highway fund.
Again, the Highway Commission has no position on gambling in Arkansas. But the citizens who will decide need to make their decision based on facts. The fact is, the proposed Constitutional amendment regarding casino gambling is not a highway funding proposal.
Photo Credit: Brandonrush [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
This week a group working to legalize four casinos in Arkansas submitted additional petition signatures to place their proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot.
Watch the video below to learn more.
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled states can legalize sports betting.
The decision sets the stage for states like Arkansas to become awash in a sea of gambling. State law already generally prohibits betting on ballgames and other sporting events, but gambling interests likely will start lobbying heavily to have those laws changed.
Some of our friends are asking what they can do about this court ruling. Here are three things:
1. Oppose Casino Amendments in Arkansas
At least two constitutional amendments legalizing casino gambling in Arkansas are vying for a spot on the November ballot. Casino proposals rejected in the past would have allowed any form of gambling that is legal in Nevada.
Sports betting is legal in Nevada right now. If our laws let casinos in Arkansas offer the same forms of gambling that casinos in Las Vegas offer, then that would include sports betting.
Opposing any casino amendments in Arkansas is one way we can ensure sports betting doesn’t work its way into our state.
2. Encourage the Legislature to Oppose Sports Betting
The racetracks at Oaklawn and Southland already offer casino-style games, and last December consultants for the State of Arkansas floated the idea of letting them offer sports betting as well.
We need to encourage our legislators not to authorize sports betting at Oaklawn or Southland.
3. Encourage Our U.S. Senators and Congressmen to Regulate Sports Betting
The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling struck down a federal law that effectively gave Las Vegas a monopoly on sports betting in America, but it left the door open for Congress to restrict and regulate sports betting through other federal laws. All four professional sports leagues — the NBA, NFL, National Hockey League, and Major League Baseball — as well as the NCAA oppose sports betting.
We need to encourage our congressmen to regulate sports betting as much as they possibly can.
Here’s Why We Need to Oppose Sports Betting
Sports betting in particular poses a problem, because of its appeal to young people who are more likely to develop a gambling problem.
Sports betting also threatens to undermine the integrity of collegiate and professional sports. Many sports programs work hard to maintain family-friendly environments that young and old alike can enjoy. Sports betting threatens to corrupt those family-friendly programs. That is one reason so many leagues have opposed efforts to legalize sports betting.
As a whole, gambling is a blight on the community. It is linked to homelessness, domestic violence, divorce, and a host of other issues. Problem gambling and gambling addiction tear families apart. Arkansas already has enough trouble from gambling. We don’t need any more.
Photo Credit: The original uploader was Bobak at English Wikipedia (Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons