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Ariz bettors gamble smart, for now

Mar 25, 2003 3:02 AM

Arizona gamblers have betting under control for now, but the long-range prospects may not be so good in the future, according to a Massachusetts-based study.

The Arizona Republic reported that the research showed about 2.3 percent of Arizona adults have moderate to severe gambling problems. That figure places the state on the low end nationally.

However, according to findings released by Gemini Research study author Rachel Volberg, about 11 percent of Arizonans could be considered at risk for developing a gambling problem. That would be higher than the national averages.

Arizona’s legal gambling industry posts nearly $1.6 billion a year in revenues, including $1 billion from Indian casinos.

Indian gambling revenues are expected to surge due to the passage of Proposition 202 last fall, which allowed more slot machines and the introduction of Nevada-style blackjack.

Minny nixes expansion

The Minnesota legislature is likely to hear more talk about expanding the number of slot machines and blackjack tables this year, but the odds are against that body taking action.

"It’s money mania," Gov. Tim Pawlenty told the Minneapolis Star Tribune last week regarding the bundle of gambling bills introduced so far. "These are creative ways, but maybe inappropriate ways to get more money into the state coffers. I understand that motive, but expanding gambling is not a good way to do it."

Governors and legislators in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Oklahoma, Vermont, North Carolina and other states are proposing more casinos or lotteries to plug budget shortfalls.

There is also a proposal up for discussion that would add a casino at Canterbury Park, built with private financing and run by the state. The new casino is facing an uphill fight.

Florida holds firm

The Orlando Sentinel reports that a House committee struck down a proposal to allow video slot machines at jai alai frontons, greyhound parks and thoroughbred tracks.

The vote was 6-3 against and went down party lines. The bill would have legalized the gambling machines that supporters claimed would have raised $1 billion or more a year and help mend next year’s state budget.

The proposal was also killed in the Legislature last year. Proponents expect the Senate to try forcing the bill on the full House later this session. It would now take a two-thirds vote of the chamber to bring video lottery terminals up for a House bill with the latest rejection.