Our politics
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Oct 15, 2010 | 2060 views |  0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When news arrived last week of the indictment of 11 state senators, lobbyists and casino owners, the parties and their respective candidates began spinning the shame of the state in their favor.

Anti-gambling forces, Republicans mostly, pointed to this as just what voters could expect if gambling was legalized in Alabama. Vote-buying to get the bill passed, they charged, would only be the beginning.

Pro-gambling forces, with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ron Sparks leading the way, argued that the indictments and arrests underscore just how gambling is already in the state and the pressure that can be applied to expand it. What the state needs, Sparks argues, are clear laws defining what is and is not legal and a gambling commission to regulate gambling activities.

Caught up in this as well is the matter of a state lottery, which Sparks favors, and GOP candidate Dr. Robert Bentley opposes, though he would agree to letting the people vote on the matter.

What is not being pointed to in this is the fact that the Legislature played politics with the gambling issue. If our senators and representatives had crafted and passed a bill that not only identified specific forms of gambling that were legal, but also set up a gaming commission to oversee gambling in the state, in all likelihood what the indictments allege happened would not have attracted the attention of the Justice Department.

For years the question of what is legal gambling has hung over the heads of our residents, as the Legislature avoided settling the matter. And from the looks of things, they will keep avoiding it. Gambling is just too good a political issue to settle.
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