by Max Brantley
The Thursday night line is open. The Memorial Day Weekend slowdown has begun. Final notes:
* PARIMUTUEL, MY FOOT: This mini-rant is occasioned by posting of a proposed change in Racing Commission rules that will allow gamblers to make a one-cent wager on the Instant Racing slot machines at Oaklawn Park and up to 40 "wagering units per active pay line" on the machines. This sounds an awful lot like the penny slots you see in Vegas casinos, where multiple payoff options encourage multiple wagers in search of big jackpots. When first sold to gullible Arkies, Instant Racing was solemnly described as a game of parimutuel wagering, not strictly chance, and nothing more than a replay of past races for conventional horse wagering. Horse hockey. It's horse hockey, too, that the poker, blackjack, craps, roulette and slots — even if all-electronic — now underway in Hot Springs and West Memphis are in any meaningful way different from the casino games found where casino gambling is explicitly legal. As opposed to de facto legal. The monopoly casinos at Southland and Oaklawn are now, presumably, too big to fail or to be subject to a court attack as unconstitutional gambling. I have no problem with gambling. But if they can gamble, why can't others, who weren't afforded this back-door entry to a hugely profitable monopoly enterprise? Let's make Hot Springs and West Memphises little Las Vegases, with competition for the gambling dollar.
* MEMORIAL DAY ON THE TAXPAYERS: I'll be checking out early tomorrow for a weekend trip to Kansas City. I'll be paying my way. Be happy to know that you'll be paying for a $54,000 retreat for members of Secretary of State Mark Martin's staff in
Siloam Springs Rogers, a deluxe retreat that might have some other expenses involved, like mileage to and fro and what not. If the leadership center there can teach Martin how to keep a car mileage log, it might be money well spent.
* REPUBLICAN WITH A CONSCIENCE: A Republican legislator in Alabama has switched over to the Democrats because he had a gut full of school teacher bashing.