A news conference is scheduled at 10 a.m. today by the coalition I told you about earlier in the week to oppose initiative efforts to expand casino gambling in Arkansas.
Delaware North, owner of the Southland casino in West Memphis, is underwriting this campaign, Stop Casinos Now. Here are some questions for the clergy and public officials who’ve been roped into opposing casino initiatives:
* Do you feel a little hypocritical putting your names on a committee that has already mailed unsourced flyers, financed by a casino, talking about the predatory nature of casinos?
* Do you feel a little hypocritical putting your names on a flyer complaining about creation of monopoly casinos that was paid for by a monopoly casino?
* Do you feel comfortable talking about the lack of regulation of casinos in the new proposals when Arkansas has virtually NO regulation of casinos now? Check the state Racing Commission, nominal overseer of “electronic games of skill” at the monopoly casinos slyly introduced into Arkansas by Southland and Oaklawn Park. You won’t find a gaming division even exists at that tiny agency, at least one worthy of mention on the website. (DF&A employs field auditors, 7 at each track, that make sure the state is getting its tax take.)
* Do you know that this campaign is being run by consultants, the Markham Group, that waged a successful semantic battle before the state Ethics Commission to avoid specific disclosure of money spent on campaigns such as the one in which you’ve enlisted?
* Do you support disclosure of campaign expenditures equivalent to that required of political candidates? If not, why not?
* How did your committee manage to drop a mass mailing in Arkansas mailboxes without being required to file an ethical disclosure statement (normally triggered by a $500 expenditure)? Did the postal service mail those flyers for free? (The committee will belatedly file today, after the campaign was already underway.)
* How has the committee already managed to begin live calling against the casino initiatives without having yet filed an organizational statement for your committee?
That’ll do for starters.
PS — I am no shill for the current casino petitions circulating. They’re crazily bad, as I noted here. But the hypocrisy in this effort is too blatant to ignore.
Still waiting for the Ethics Commission filing. But the news release with Southland’s helpers (no mention of gambling support) follows. It’s bipartisan, but Republicans Prissy Hickerson and Eddie Joe Williams have both been quoted about not wanting Las Vegas-style casinos in Arkansas. Neither has proposed to pack up Southland and Oaklawn and move them to Nevada, however: