- West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin has signed the table games bill that allows four tracks to conduct referendums in their counties to permit the gambling expansion. While the tracks have the option of waiting until a 2008 primary day, ha, you think they're going to wait that long? Three of those tracks are seeking to have a June 9 vote at their own expense, estimated to range from $30,000 to $250,000, which I suppose doesn't include campaign and PR expense. Only Charles Town, which has a healthier economy, a booming population and no immediate threat of competition, has yet to set a date for a vote. [Charleston Daily Mail] While the tracks say that they're simply trying for the earliest date they can get, a conservative Christian group suspects an ulterior motive to the common date.
"I didn't ride in on a turnip truck, I can assure you," said Kevin McCoy, executive director of the West Virginia Family Foundation.McCoy's group plans to file lawsuits to try and stop the votes. The suits will contend that the law permitting the vote is unconstitutional. That argument was pressed unsuccessfully by opponents in the legislature, but seems to me to be based on reasonable grounds. The law passed in 1984 that is being used to justify the expansion was intended only to legalize scratch off lottery games.
"They know what they're doing. They know our resources are limited, both in personnel and financial....I see this as a way to get us off balance, to keep us from being able to organize effectively in those counties."
Moreover, the Family Foundation plans to challenge the law on moral grounds by insisting casino gambling injures the state’s health and welfare as a society, given the negative impacts associated with gambling and the social ills attributed to addicted gamblers. [Register Herald - Beckley, W.V.]I'd stick to the constitutional argument if I were them. For one thing, the standard contention that casinos cause an increase in crime has not played out in Florida. (Hat tip to Albany Law School's Racing and Wagering Today for that link.)
Speaking of Florida, while the talk of legislative efforts to repeal Broward County's slots law has died down, there's still that move in the courts to void the results of the referendum that is long past. In a little noticed story from Wednesday (thanks again to the Albany Law School site), the Miami Herald reported that the Florida Supreme Court has agreed to hear the challenge, and to consider the constitionality of two issues:
whether such signatures can be challenged even after the signatures have been certified by the secretary of state and voting has begun, and whether a state constitutional amendment may be invalidated even after the vote if a claim is later lodged that some signatures were fraudulently obtained.These rulings were actually requested by the slots proponents, because an appellate court has already ordered a lower court to invalidate the election should enough signatures turn out to be fraudulant, something that the opponents insist they have ample evidence to prove. And all I can add is - oh, man. Can you imagine the law being overturned after the racinos have already opened and millions have been spent on their construction? And this is at a time when Gov Crist is already incorporating revenues into his budget, and the legislature is moving towards further expansion and relaxation of some of the harsh restrictions imposed by former Gov. Jeb Bush (whose name I don't really want to hear of or mention again anytime between now and November, 2008).