Electronic gaming has long been an issue for the state of Alabama. And with so many gaming facilities in and around the capital city, Montgomerians have heard their fair share of banter on both sides. Most recently, Republican candidate for governor Bill Johnson has sounded off in the local daily about his stance on the volatile issue.
Johnson claims, in what should be an obvious realization, that the legalization of gaming in Alabama should be left up to the voters. "As governor, I would fully support a vote by the people of Alabama to resolve the long standing dispute on legalized gambling," Johnson said in a Montgomery Advertiser editorial.
The candidate went on to site several common sense disputes over the current legislation. With the touch of a computer, citizens are within reach of thousands of on-line gaming sites. Further, with a short drive they can patron dozens of out of state facilities or participate in state lotteries as close as Florida, Georgia and Mississippi. All of these methods lead to Alabamian dollars being handed over to other state's bank accounts.
It's no mystery that Alabama is in sincere financial disarray, much like the rest of our country. To refuse revenue from these clean, safe and enjoyable environments is a flawed policy and obvious lack of common sense.
In Johnson's proposal, many new programs could be enlisted to protect citizens from the potentially hazardous repercussions over-gambling can present. Johnson's ideas: enact a loss limit and remove parlor's ATM's to protect patrons, put limitations on the amount of advertising the facilities can display and create a profit sharing policy where state programs can benefit from gambling revenue.
But even considering Johnson's bright ideas and common sense approach, his best idea may be one that other legislators could benefit from - LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE!
In a Democracy this is the way things ought to work. Despite what leaders think is the best idea, despite what people say in quiet political discussions, America was built on the ideal that the citizens should make or break this country.
Whether Democrat or Republican, allowing jobs to be lost and revenue to be diverted to other states is a flawed policy. With our infrastructure in dire need of repair and jobs being lost at an alarming rate, now is not the time to refuse revenue.
Bill Johnson's got the right idea, let the people decide. In 2010, issues aside, this mantra might be one Democratic candidates should grab onto. If not, Alabama's next governor might well be a common-sense Republican.