Video gambling initiative sponsored by controversial race-track owner's mom

Lt. Gov. Leman denied original petition for not having statewide interest

Posted: Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The main sponsor of an initiative proposal to bring video poker to Alaska is the mother of a controversial racetrack owner who has pushed for gambling initiatives in other states.

Victoria Scott said her son, Las Vegas investor Shawn Scott, is not a partner in her planned Alaska video gambling venture. She and her son have worked together in the past, including in a company that sponsored an initiative to bring slot machines to a Maine racetrack, but the Anchorage facility would be hers alone, she said.

"I just thought that this would be a good place," Victoria Scott said. "This is something that all the residents can vote on. I think they like and lack entertainment."

Shawn Scott was a key player in pushing through initiatives to bring slot machines to racetracks he owned in Maine and Louisiana. He netted millions when he later sold those properties.

Shawn Scott's past dealings have been profitable but checkered. He was denied a license to operate a racetrack in upstate New York in 2003 for making false statements on an application, which he has appealed. He also has been denied applications to run video poker machines in South Carolina.

In Maine, Scott was linked to a political action committee called Good Morals for Maine that battled proposals for other racinos - combined race track and casino - that would compete with his own.

Victoria Scott bristled at the mention of her son, saying she has run several ventures without him, including a chain video poker truck stops in Louisiana.

"These problems existed for him long before I got my truck stop licenses," she said. "I don't know why you're even bringing his name into this."

Victoria Scott, who has lived in Anchorage for more than a year and a half, is driving the initiative proposal to bring video lottery terminals to Alaska. Commonly known as video poker machines, the terminals allow players to wager on any number of games from video slot machines to poker to keno.

Scott has an Anchorage apartment and a car registered with the Division of Motor Vehicles. She has been registered to vote in Alaska since January 2004.

The original initiative draft was denied certification earlier this year by Lt. Gov. Loren Leman. An attorney general's opinion that accompanied the rejection said the initiative was not of statewide interest because it allowed just one licensee to run a full-blown video gambling facility through 2008. The proposal designated a specific Anchorage parcel of land as a "gaming district" - the only place a video lottery terminal facility could be located.

Victoria Scott has an option to buy that parcel.

"The extraordinarily restrictive nature of this definition means that the only person that could possibly be issued a license to operate video lottery terminals through the end of 2008 is the individual who owns the identified parcel of land," the attorney general opinion read.

The initiative sponsors recently submitted a revised version of the plan, which is under review in the attorney general's office. The sponsors hope to collect enough signatures to place it on the 2006 ballot.

In the new version, up to five video poker machines would be allowed in bars and pulltab parlors after voter approval. Also, the new version drops the requirement that full-scale video gambling halls can't be licensed until after 2008. Still, local voters must approve forming these new gaming districts, and only one per borough of over 30,000 people would be allowed.

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