Ballot Measure 1 Proponent :'Yes' vote ensures responsible, clean, fair gaming

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2008

Protect our nonprofits, vote "Yes" on 1.

Fair, clean and accountable standards for the games of chance that Alaskans play will be on the ballot in the August primary.

Ballot initiative 1 would establish clear and consistent rules for the games of chance that are already legal -- and commonplace -- in Alaska.

If you've ever bought a raffle ticket, entered a fishing derby, or played bingo, you have played one of Alaska's legal games. They provide recreational activity, a social meeting place, and some $350 million a year to support over 1,200 charities throughout the state.

But numerous problems plague Alaska gaming, including misuse of gaming funds and collusion in awarding prizes.

Oversight and reporting of activities are spotty, and so is accounting of revenues from cruise ship gaming. Most importantly, there is a growing illegal gambling problem in the state.

Right now, Alaska lacks consistent rules and oversight to ensure the legal games are fair and clean. Enforcement of gaming laws is divided among a hodgepodge of agencies. An understaffed Charitable Gaming Division of the Department of Revenue is responsible for monitoring gaming activities. But enforcement of gaming laws falls to local law enforcement agencies and the Department of Public Safety. If they find violations, it's up to the Department of Law to prosecute.

Ballot Initiative 1 would consolidate all gaming oversight into a single Alaska Gaming Commission to make enforcement more efficient and allow the other agencies to pursue their primary responsibilities.

Gaming in Alaska has a rich history and it is part of our heritage that needs to be protected.

Voting Yes on Ballot Initiative 1 will ensure Alaska gaming is responsible, clean and fair for everyone.

Darwin Biwer is the chairman of Alaskans for Gaming Reform.

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