Alaska voters will be asked Tuesday whether they want to create a Gaming Commission within the state Department of Revenue, resolving a bitter fight between pro- and anti-gambling forces.
The seven-member commission would have authority to expand gambling by allowing slot machines, poker rooms, lotteries or any form of waging game.
Right now, only state legislators have that authority and they have been jockeying for years over what is right for Alaska. Should card players be able to play Texas Hold 'em for money? Should bar patrons be able to try their luck with slot machines? Should Alaska be allowed to join other states in the Powerball lottery?
Supporters of creating the commission through Ballot Measure 1 say allowing more gambling will attract tourists, keep revenue in state that is now going to Nevada or to online gambling sites, and possibly create jobs and provide additional money to the state coffers through new taxes.
"There's a lot of money involved, and it should stay here," said lawyer Ken Jacobus, who helped write the initiative for the group Alaskans for Gaming Reform. "I'm voting yes because I think it's good for the Alaska economy."
Opponents say nothing about the system is broken now, and gambling can lead to such serious societal ills as child neglect, divorce, bankruptcies and debt-driven crimes. Only lawmakers should have the power to expand it, they say. Alaskans for Gaming Reform is hoping to enact something it can't get through traditional law-making channels, they say.
Read the full story at adn.com.