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Gambling Bill Sparks Debate In State Senate

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The Senate passed a bill allowing casinos to use balls and dice instead of playing cards, despite concerns it would fuel gambling addiction.

The bill doesn’t change which games can be played in Oklahoma casinos, but it changes how they can be played and it adds more money to state coffers. But opponents wonder, “At what cost?”

“16 million of the dollars that come in on the first year will go to education,” said Senator Greg McCourtney (R) Ada, touting the bill.

Senator Ron Sharp (R) Shawnee said, “This is a positive impact for the state of Oklahoma and public education. This should be a no brainer.”

But Senator Roland Pederson (R) Burlington responded, “I don’t know about the no brainer deal, because I think that I have a brain and I have some real problems supporting this bill.”

Pederson said, “You can’t value everything by money. And I think what we’re setting up here is just a chance for, increased chance for families to fail.”

Backers say the bill won’t increase gaming, it just adds balls and dice.

“We are not changing if we should gamble in the state of Oklahoma.  We are changing how we do that,” said Senator Stephanie Bice (R) Oklahoma City.

Senator Paul Scott (R) Duncan responded, “Yes we are doing ball and dice now in the casinos with the cards, but what we’re doing is, we’re making an extremely addictive game even more attractive.”

Senator Jason Smalley (R) Stroud said, “Seriously. We’re going to talk about addiction in a body that is all liberty. All about the freedom of choice. We’re going to talk about addiction. We want to legislate that. There’s addiction in alcohol. There’s addiction in credit cards. There’s addiction for using snap benefits for Slim Jims and cookies.”

McCourtney assured colleagues, “If we have concerns about addiction, if we have concerns about needing to fund addiction services through mental health that money will be there for us to appropriate.”

The bill now goes to the House of Representatives. 

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