by Max Brantley
Jerry Cox of the Family Council tells me of a news conference at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Capitol to announce a campaign to oppose the state lottery.
No tricks. Just the usual grassroots effort, heavy on nourishing church ties, I suspect.
What's to say? Look to Tennessee. People not ready for college haven't been able to stay on lottery-funded scholarships and they have a surplus. Remove lottery from the Constitution and you've opened the door to very sophisticated forms of gambling in convenience stores. Is the legislature a sufficient firewall against expanded forms of gambling not anticipated when you say the word "lottery"?
An interesting behind-the-scenes question: Will Southland and Oaklawn weigh in, very subtly of course, against this measure. If the state lottery opens the door to rapid-fire machine gambling, as it has done in some states, this presents real competition to the tracks. Why go to Oaklawn if the Stop-n-Go on Central has the functional equivalent of a slot machine?
Another interesting question is who else will fall in with Lt. Gov. Bill Halter on promoting the measure. A wealthy Little Rock man, John Bailey, has fronted all the expense money so far, with some sweat equity from organized labor. But does that constitute a coalition?