Let the Games Begin?

Gambling is a hot ballot issue in a bunch of places, but there are a couple of states that I'm watching in particular: Maryland and ...
by | October 20, 2008

Gambling is a hot ballot issue in a bunch of places, but there are a couple of states that I'm watching in particular: Maryland and Arkansas. Here are the details, which I'm adding to Governing's ballot measure guide.

State: Arkansas

Issue: Proposed Amendment 3, which would create a state lottery to fund college scholarships.

Analysis: State-run lotteries, an unquestioned fact of life in much of the country, remain controversial in the Deep South, where opposition to gambling is stronger. Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama are three of the only eight states without lotteries (the others are Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Hawaii and Alaska). Lt. Gov. Bill Halter has made the lottery a personal cause, so the vote will be a test of his political muscle.

State: Maryland

Issue: Question 2, to allow slot machines in Maryland.

Analysis: In 2007, Maryland, in a manner of speaking, was ahead of the curve: The state faced major budget problems before almost anyone else. To patch up the budget, the legislature agreed to tax increases and also placed the vote on slots, which supporters hope will be a revenue boon for the state, on the ballot. Many Republicans in Maryland, including former Gov. Bob Ehrlich, are opposing the measure. Democrats are deeply divided -- Governor Martin O'Malley and the state Democratic Party have endorsed it, but State Comptroller Peter Franchot and the Democratic Party organization in Montgomery County (the most populous jurisdiction in the state) are opposed.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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