Bentley a patsy for gambling?

I’ll start by setting out my bias. I think gambling and the lottery, in Alabama, would be evil. Not because the bible says they are, but because they are one more method to extract money from the poor.
Sparks is unabashedly in favor of gambling; indeed, I have yet to figure out what he’ll do for four years if a gambling bill does not make it through the legislature.
So my question is, What about Bentley?
I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect gambling interests like him at least as much as they like Sparks. Cynically, I’m guessing that if there was any way to follow his PAC-convoluted money trail, we would see the proof.
Bentley’s oft-repeated line is that he personally opposes gambling, but thinks the people should have the opportunity to vote on it. Even that statement causes me some heartburn; we have voted on it, and we voted it down. Do we have to have another referendum every time a gambling interest asks for it?
But my big problem, and the reason I question Bentley’s sincerity on the issue, is how he says the referendum should be worded. He wants a yes-no vote on any form of gambling. By voting “no,” you’re voting against bingo cards at VFW and against fundraisers for crippled children. Vote “yes” and you approve the whole shebang, a VictoryLand in every county.
In an interview Monday, he tipped his hat even more. He said his understanding is that about 40 percent of Alabamians oppose all games of chance (including the old ladies with their bingo cards at a Catholic church). “That 40 percent should have a chance to vote, too,” he said in a masterpiece of misleading rhetoric.
To me, this means he is confident that 60 percent of the people would support gambling in his carefully worded referendum. And that’s even before a few million dollars gets spent showing grandma in handcuffs.
With a thin Republican gloss, Bentley’s approach is every bit as pro-gambling as is the more honest approach touted by Sparks.
I’m guessing the gambling interests are laughing out loud. Once they got Byrne out of the race, they knew they owned both candidates.
I can hope either federal indictments or a burst of legislative honesty hold gambling at bay. If it’s up to either candidate for governor, though, get ready for a casino near you.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Bentley a patsy for gambling?

  1. Fred Marschner

    Eric: What about the role of “Boss” Hubbard in the governors race. Assuring that the victor is beholding to him as well, he made a deal with the gambling interests i.e. support gambling by taking out Byrne in the Republican primary. The revenue that gambling brings to the state will go straight to the underfunded teachers pension plan and exploding healthcare benefits. Not a dime for the students. Wait and see.

  2. Lee McCain MD

    The latest issue of Fortune has an article on which states have the largest “rainy day funds”. Well the obvious ones are the oil states. But interestingly are the states bordering Alabama (Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia) are shown as having surpluses as well. There is only one commonality I can think of here. The situation reminds me of all those years Decatur was a “dry” county. The revenue just went over the “line” much the same way I suspect our money is going into our neighboring states for lottery tickets and the like. I agree with you that ilk associated with gambling is hard to stomach. In an ideal world gambling would not exist for the reasons you have given. But if people are going to waste their money on such exploits would you rather it not be here than across the line?

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