Weekend Digest: The Politics Of A Big Gamble

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 86 views 

Editor’s Note: Talk Business begins a new feature on our blogs called “The Weekend Digest,” a compilation of interesting feature stories, analyses and recommended reading from a variety of outside Arkansas sources for our business and political readers. The intent is to provide readers with a wide-ranging look at events happening in other states, developing trends and some leisurely reading on the weekends when the news tends to be a little slower. Your feedback is welcome — just drop me a note at [email protected].

The Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie (R), wants his state to defy a federal ban and allow sports betting.

Claiming the issue is important to reinvigorating gambling in Atlantic City, Christie said:

“We intend to go forward,” the Republican governor said in this ESPN article. “If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us. We want to work with the casinos and horse racing industry to get it implemented.”

“Am I expecting there may be legal action taken against us to try to prevent it? Yes,” Christie said. “But I have every confidence we're going to be successful.”

A national gambling study in the 1990s pegged sports betting — legal and otherwise — as a $380 billion industry. The Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association, an online gambling association pushing for Internet betting to be legalized in New Jersey, says that figure now is closer to a half-trillion dollars.

Casino executives are cautious, but supportive. State polling shows the issue to be popular by a 2-to-1 margin. The legislature has already approved enabling legislation.

Former Boston Red Sox pitching ace Curt Schilling is making headlines in New England, but they won't make him popular with taxpayers.

Schilling started a video gaming company called 38 Studios several years ago and after failing to secure private financing struck a deal with the state of Rhode Island, which used $75 million in economic development loans, to invest in the venture.

This week, the company dismissed its workforce of 400 and appears headed to default on the state loan. Schilling reportedly invested $30 million of his own funds in the project, according to sources.

The whole debacle is likely to be held up as a poster child for deterring state investments in untested business models as well as those who fear government shouldn't be gambling on high-risk, entrepreneurial endeavors.  The Boston Globe has more at this link.

The New York Times runs a lengthy feature on the role of Mormon faith in GOP Presidential front-runner Mitt Romney's life.

The long-form piece offer

s plenty of examples from those close to Romney of  his religious diligence and how it has shaped his business, personal and political worlds. Romney declined to be interviewed for the story, but many family friends and business associates are.

On balance, it's a fair piece with questions about his religious reconciliation with political decisions and highlights of a deep faith that displays itself daily.

From The Times:

When Mr. Romney’s former Sunday school students listen to him campaign, they sometimes hear echoes of messages he delivered to them years before: beliefs that stem at least in part from his faith, in a way that casual observers may miss. He is not proselytizing but translating, they say — taking powerful ideas and lessons from the church and applying them in another realm.

Just as Ronald Reagan deployed acting skills on the trail and Barack Obama relied on the language of community organizing, Mitt Romney bears the marks of the theology and culture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Mr. Romney declined to be interviewed.)

Mormons have a long tradition of achieving success by sharing secular versions of their tenets, said Matthew Bowman, author of “The Mormon People,” citing Stephen R. Covey’s “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” which he called Latter-day Saint theology repackaged as career advice.

While Mr. Romney has expressed some views at odds with his church’s teachings — in Massachusetts, he supported measures related to alcohol and gambling, both frowned upon by the church — other positions flow directly from his faith, including his objections to abortion and same-sex marriage and his notion of self-sufficiency tempered with generosity.

You can access the full story here.

Arkansas lawmakers are studying an overhaul to the state's tax code, notably income tax reform. Our neighbor to the northwest, Oklahoma, is a step ahead of us, but efforts to alter its tax code appear derailed for now.

Republican Gov. Mary Fallin had called for an aggressive reduction in Oklahoma personal income taxes, which account for nearly 30% of that state's revenues.

With GOP majorities in both chambers, state lawmakers were unable to strike a consensus and the legislature adjourned with no deal. Fallin, who had made the cuts a centerpiece of her legislative agenda, said she would probably not call a special session to deal with the matter as an agreement between House and Senate GOP leadership was at an impasse.

The tax cut plan would lower income tax rates from 5.25% to 4.8% next year. Subsequently, the rate would fall to 4.5% in 2015 assuming tax revenues grow at an annual 5% rate.

Democrats have complained about potential cuts in state services, but it's been Republican back-biting that has stalled the deal. Read more here.