Casinos, wages: two diverse choices on your ballot
The final two questions on the 2018 General Election ballot both concern money.
Casino gambling dollars are contained in Question 4 while the debate of mandating a calendar of raises to the state’s minimum wage to $11 by January 2021, is found in Question 5.
It is possible that these two questions are sleepers to the voters, despite the gaudy, lavish and celebrity-filled promotion for the casino question as seen on television sets and radio broadcasts of late.
A look at both questions begins now.
• Question 4: The casino question.
The ballot title reads as follows: An Amendment to require four licenses to be issued for Casino Gaming in Casinos, one each in Crittenden (Southland Racing Corporation), Garland (to Oaklawn Jockey Club Inc.) and Pope and Jefferson Counties. In layman’s language:
Four licenses would be issued, two of those to Southland Racing Corporation in West Memphis, i.e. the Dog Track; and Oaklawn Jockey Club Inc. of Hot Springs, the Horse Track. Both of these venues already have what the state calls “Instant Racing,” in other words there are electronic games to be played as gambling. What this will do is allow human gambling, cards, dice and other games of gambling skills at Hot Springs and West Memphis. Also two licenses will be issued for Pope County (Russellville) and Jefferson County (Pine Bluff).
Both the Jefferson and Pope Licenses must be within two miles of the city limits of Pine Bluff and Russellville, as written into the act. Since Pope County is a “dry” county, the passage of this act will allow the Pope casino to serve on-premises alcohol without a vote of the citizens of Pope County. That was also written into the Amendment. Imagine that.
There is an extensive division of the gambling proceeds and how they shall be calculated and applied to state government.
My take on it: This is a boondoggle to try, once again, to bring in casino gambling and in the Pope County case, bring in on-premises liquor consumption without the public vote. I do not like former OU coach Barry Switzer, on one hand a shameless shill for the Casinos in Oklahoma trying to wax philosophical about why Arkansas needs casino gambling revenues. He is, after all, a happy citizen of Oklahoma now, not the Bootlegger’s Boy from Crossett or as he puts it a football player from Fayetteville. Did anybody notice he choked on saying University of Arkansas in his commercials?
I’ll vote No on this question. Both race tracks have enough gambling going on of the mechanical kind with revenues to be jealous of under our current laws.
• Question No. 5 – An Act to Increase the Arkansas Minimum Wage. The ballot title reads: An Act to amend the Arkansas Code concerning the state minimum wage; the Act would raise the current State minimum wage from $8.50 to $9.25 per hour by Jan. 1, 2019; would raise the wage to $10 per hour by Jan. 1, 2020 and to $11.00 per hour by Jan. 1, 2021.
My take on it. At first blush it sounds great. People working at the minimum wage by the hour need more income. But what will happen to the small businesses that have to absorb these increases mandated by this act. Will this really work in a rural, undeveloped state like Arkansas. Those making minimum wage currently, as employees, are they really trained and have the job skills to match that $9.25, $10 and $11 per hour mandated by this act.
I’ll still be pondering this when I enter the booth.
And I hope the dissection of these five questions
over the past two weeks have helped you make up your minds.
Please vote on Nov. 6.