Family Council raises alarm about gambling, wine | Arkansas Blog

Family Council raises alarm about gambling, wine

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The religious right lobby Family Council doesn't spend all its time hating on gay people and trying to restrict women's access to medical care. Now and then, gambling and alcohol draws their attention.

I grant them points today for noting:

* GAMBLING: Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson has proposed a change to the "Chuck E. Cheese" law, which allowed award of small prizes at kids' arcades like the namesake pizza parlor, that would open the door to small-scale gambling in every tavern, pool hall and other venue in Arkansas. Instead of a $12.50 limit on prizes, it would set a limit of an $850 wholesale value limit on prizes, which could include "without limitation …. electronic devices." You could win an iPad, in other words, or bunches of them. And probably sell them back at wholesale, too, I'd bet.

If we're going to gamble in Arkansas, let's gamble. End the "electronic games of skill sham" that creates duopoly casinos at the Oaklawn racino and Southland, where a meager amount of the dying "sport" of dog racing exists only to justify the slot machines. But really. Would a legislature that wouldn't let the Arkansas Lottery, which provides college scholarships, add video terminal gambling really allow tavern gambling for $850 jackpots?

* WINE ALARM: The Family Council is also not happy about a bill that would expand wine offerings in grocery stores. Those in wet counties are currently limited to sale of Arkansas and small batch wineries from other states. None of the big well-known (and often pricier) national labels are allowed. This bill would allow grocery stores to sell any wine they chose. It's another Hutchinson bill. It offers a sweetener to defuse opposition from Arkansas winemakers — a grant program available only to wine grape growers in Arkansas. Enough to shut them up? Not to shut up the retail package stores, I'd guess?

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