Gambling initiative shot down

Lt. gov. denies second attempt at petition

Posted: Thursday, August 04, 2005

A second attempt for a vote to legalize video gambling in Alaska was rejected Wednesday when Lt. Gov. Loren Leman denied certification of the initiative petition.

Assistant Attorney General Sarah Felix, in a legal opinion on the measure, said the revised version had the same constitutionality problems as the first one: It contains local and special legislation, which is barred from the initiative process under the Alaska Constitution.

Leman, in a letter to initiative co-sponsor Ken Jacobus, wrote that his denial was based on the legal opinion. The sponsors have 30 days to appeal the decision in court.

Jacobus could not be immediately reached Wednesday evening.

Victoria Scott, the main sponsor of the initiative proposal, is the mother of a Shawn Scott, a controversial Las Vegas investor and former racetrack owner who has pushed for gambling initiatives in other states.

Victoria Scott has an option to buy a parcel of land in Anchorage that the proposal designates as a "gaming district" where the video lottery terminals could be placed.

The terminals allow players to wager on a variety of games from video slot machines to poker to keno.

The original measure would have given Scott a monopoly on the machines in Alaska until 2008. The revised version would have allowed up to five of the video gambling machines in bars and pulltab parlors, and dropped the 2008 moratorium on forming additional gaming districts in other boroughs after a local vote.

The new version of the proposal still would have allowed just one full-blown video gambling hall in Anchorage - Scott's.

Felix, in her opinion, said that provision would still enact local law in Anchorage, which the constitution prohibits a statewide initiative from doing. The proposal does not have an obvious statewide impact because it designates one specific parcel in Anchorage that is owned by one person, she wrote.

Scott previously has said she wanted to start the enterprise on her own as a way to bring a new form of entertainment to Alaska.

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. Victoria Scott said her son is not involved in the Alaska proposal.



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