Where to start on the raucous old coots who think bingo should be untaxed in Arkansas?
1) First, before anything is done to the existing system of collecting a tiny tax on bingo wagering (less than 4 percent of gross), open the books. Let's see if these games truly are pure charity operations or if the vets have found a way to subsidize their drinking halls.
2) Take with a massive dose of salt the bingo operators' assertion that they can be trusted. The evidence is clear that they cannot. They spat on the law for decades by operating illegally. Why would you possibly believe they'd be law-abiding if removed from state control now?
I simply don't believe some of the expensively advertised games in large halls are operated strictly for charity. Let state regulation continue. And state taxes. And make no change in the law until the outfits operating the games open up their books, including disclosure of charity recipients and amounts. (Some of the complainants, I'd note, come from churches that enjoy a vast array of tax exemptions already.)
Arguments in favor of removal of the tax were contradictory in the extreme. The charity operators in Arkansas say they can't compete with Oklahoma. But Oklahoma has for-profit bingo operations. How is it that Arkansas bingo halls, which are putatively non-profit, can't compete with Oklahoma if there's no profit takeout here and workers in the games do so voluntarily, without pay? (Are you starting to smell the rats here?)
A round of applause for Gov. Mike Beebe who said he's willing to study amendments, but doesn't favor an end to taxes and regulation. That's a careful middle ground. It may be enough to kill this stupid (and greedy) idea outright.