The Truth... What is it?


After an article. Published Thursday, September 30, 1999, in The State.
Only the poker bosses try to defy the 'will of people'.

QUESTION: Video poker in itself is not that important an issue in this state, but the public being manipulated by the media and the will of the people being ignored IS! We had a vote on this, and the voters have already spoken. I thought that it was only Third World countries that found loopholes to throw out the will of the people when it did not represent what those in power wanted, but unfortunately that is apparently the case in South Carolina. It has already been pointed out in your paper that if this upcoming vote doesn't accomplish what the powers-that-be want, they have another loophole to set it aside just as they did the last referendum. This is not right. Why should we tolerate it?
--A reader (poker supporter)

ANSWER: Boy, that's a pretty compelling reason to be upset with the video poker bosses. Strangely enough, this question came from a video poker supporter. And she's not alone. Somehow, video poker supporters have gotten it in their heads that it's the gambling opponents who got us in this situation, that it's the gambling opponents who fight tooth and nail to overturn the laws -- or the votes -- that don't please them.

That is simply not the case. The record could not be more clear: Every time the video poker bosses fail to get their way, they challenge, or ignore, the decision-makers.

When video poker won 34 of the state's 46 counties in the 1994 referendum, you didn't hear video poker opponents complaining. You didn't see video gambling opponents in the General Assembly -- who were in the overwhelming majority -- introducing legislation to overturn the results and ban poker in those 34 counties.

No. As far as video poker opponents were concerned, the issue was settled: South Carolina would have video poker in 34 counties, under a set of modest regulations that had been passed in 1993.

But the poker bosses wouldn't have that. They simply would not abide by the public will in those 12 counties where the voters said they were not welcome. They went to court, and they got the results overturned. Criminal laws cannot vary from county to county, the state Supreme Court said.

So video poker opponents, determined not to "throw out the will of the people," wrote a new law to let those 12 counties prohibit video poker administratively. You can guess what happened next: The video poker operators rushed into court and got an injunction to stop this new law from being enforced. (Mind you, a judge has never ruled that this new law was unconstitutional, only that it can't be enforced until he eventually, someday, maybe, gets around to holding hearings on the matter.)

But even with this, video poker opponents might have been willing to leave things as they were -- if only the poker operators had been willing to obey those meager regulations the Legislature had passed in 1993. Of course, they weren't.

They willfully and deliberately and repeatedly and systematically ignored those regulations, to the extent that a federal judge found this spring that violations were "so frequent, common and pervasive ... that no operator can compete in this industry without violating the law."

This is not a mere academic point. It was by ignoring the law -- particularly the part designed to ensure low-stakes gambling by limiting payouts to $125 per day -- that video gambling was able to grow into the monster it is today, consuming more cash in a year than all the grocery stores in the state.

So let there be no misunderstanding: It was the video poker operators who thumbed their nose at "the will of the people," first by having the "no" votes overturned and then by refusing to abide by the conditions under which voters in the other 34 counties agreed to let them operate. This calculated defiance of the law on the part of the video poker operators left the Legislature with absolutely no choice but to return to this issue -- in order to see to it that "the will of the people" could be done.

And so now the public gets another chance to decide this issue, on Nov. 2 -- and under very different circumstances, after the public has had several years to see just how bad this racket is. And yes, there has been talk of a loophole that could allow the results to be thrown out. But don't kid yourself into thinking for even a second that it's the opponents of video poker who are looking to exploit some loophole. It is, of course, the poker bosses who are hoping to find a way to overturn the election if they lose. Knowing that would be the case, gambling opponents went through all sorts of twists and turns to try to make the law loophole-proof. This involved, on more than one occasion, defusing land mines the poker supporters had tried to sneak into the law to make sure it didn't say what they promised it would say.

No, if "the will of the people" is again defied, it will be by the same people who have always defied it -- the video poker bosses.

You should consider subscribing to The State. They have done a wonderful job in informing us of the dangers of this pan-societal gambling menace!

***give me your comments about this page***

check out the Highest TRUTH

[posted 2 Oct. 1999]