Cook: GOP-Controlled State Legislature Authorized Internet Gambling

by Michael Cook ([email protected]) 186 views 

When Republicans took over the Arkansas General Assembly last year, many political observers believed the legislative focus would change under the regime. And it sure did. Last year, the Republican-controlled State Legislature passed legislation allowing Arkansans to legally gamble via the Internet.

Until recently, I had no idea this legislation had been passed.

ACT 350 (Senate Bill 329) gives both Oaklawn Racetrack and Southland Park authorization to let Arkansans gamble on the ponies or greyhounds via the Internet.

Thanks to the GOP-run State Legislature, Arkansans can now use their smartphones or home computers to place a bet on a horse or a greyhound.

For example, Oaklawn recently created a website where Arkansans can deposit money into their online account and place bets on either races in Hot Springs or any other the simulcast races. What’s great about the Oaklawn website is an Arkansan can be anywhere in the country and still gamble on a horse.

Since Act 350 allows wagers to be made via mobile devices, I predict a smartphone app is already in the works allowing folks to gamble on their iPhone or Androids.

State Senators Bill Sample and Keith Ingram sponsored the legislation, along with State Representatives John Vines and Deborah Ferguson. All four legislators have one of the racetracks in their districts.

Senate Bill 329 easily passed the State Legislature last session. All 35 Senators voted for its passage and no one voted against it in the House where it passed with 84 votes. Fourteen State Representatives didn’t vote on this bill and two voted present.

Frankly, I was surprised so many Arkansas Republicans supported gambling via the Internet. And we must note that Arkansas Democrats supported the new law as well. If you can place a wager on a horse or a greyhound while sitting in the comfort of your own home, or on a smartphone, that’s Internet gambling.

Since Legislative Republicans support Internet gambling already, can we tweak the law and allow folks to purchase lottery tickets online? That would mean more money for college scholarships, which is good for Arkansas.

Since Arkansas Republicans gained controlled of the legislature, they not only voted for a $20 million tax increase, but they also approved Internet gambling.

I bet no one saw that coming.