A bill already approved in the Senate came out of the House Rules Committee today without a peep. By Sen. Scott Flippo, it prohibits the Alcoholic Beverage Control Divsiion from enforcing laws regarding gambling machines.
What? You thought gambling was illegal in Arkansas except through the lottery or at the two race-track casinos?
Get around. Taverns, convenience stores and others all over Arkansas perpetually try to increase cash flow with gambling machines. ABC agents occasionally assess fines when these machines are found in permitted premises. Operators don’t like it.
They don’t like it so much that legislation was introduced not only to tie the hands of ABC agents, but to make it a crime for a law officer to enforce the law against gambling machines (this part was taken out) and also to give prosecutors discretion to allow gambling machines in their jurisdictions. Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, in his private life as a lawyer, is attempting to win a lawsuit proclaiming these gambling machines “games of skill.” If it worked for roulette and craps at Oaklawn and Southland, why not at every roadhouse in Arkansas? Oh and there’s also a bill to legalize fantasy sports wagering.
This is the start of a long, rocky road. Some will be prosecuted, some won’t. Lawsuits will be filed. Widespread corruption will ensue. Bet on it. The Constitution’s prohibition on games of chance? Malleable, particularly by a results oriented Arkansas Supreme Court with an acute sensitivity toward the legislature.