if more money is needed, the solution is easy. The gaming venues in our
state annually send nearly $200 million in direct tax revenues to the
Capitol for legislators to spend. Most men and women serving in that
hallowed and falling-down building are Republicans, members of the same
party that voted almost unanimously against the bill former House
Speaker Larry Adair and I authored in 2003 that legalized gaming in this
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,
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
However, as some often say, I wouldn’t bet on it. The odds are about the same as winning the Powerball.
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.
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.
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
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.