Our current lawmakers are now an even more conservative bunch (quite a trick) and work very hard by staying busy on such critical Sooner State challenges as trying to figure out what the rest of us do in our bedrooms, who we love and why, putting guns in schools, telling women and doctors how and what to do during certain medical procedures, making sure the United Nations doesn’t come get us, etc.
Surely when they get a break from such important matters, it should not be a big step for one of these obviously deep thinkers to peel off $1 million or so from gaming revenues for addiction treatment.
However, as some often say, I wouldn’t bet on it. The odds are about the same as winning the Powerball.
Seriously, casino gaming was passed by the Legislature in 2003 and approved by Oklahoma voters the following year. By any measure, it has been a tremendous success, an economic boon to the entire state in the form of construction, tourism, world-class entertainment, excellent dining facilities and jobs for tens of thousands of citizens. And, yes, our tribes are in better financial shape than ever and are spending much of their casino profits on education, health and roads. They are finally full partners with our state — a situation long overdue.
The legislation also saved Oklahoma’s moribund horse racing industry, stopped illegal gaming at tribal outlets and, by the way, earmarked millions for public education from kindergarten through graduate school.
When the Oklahoma Legislature tries to do something important and hard — which isn’t very often (including those I served in) — the outcome is never perfect, and it shouldn’t be in a democracy. As far as legalizing gaming, the positives far outweigh the negatives in every major category.
If more money is needed for gambling addiction, the money is sitting in the Oklahoma treasurer’s office... paid for, exclusively, by the gamblers themselves.
—Cal Hobson, Lexington
Hobson is a former president pro tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate.