A former governor of North Dakota says anti-lottery forces in Idaho shouldn't be discouraged by the fact 60 percent of the voters approved a lottery two years ago.
Former governor Arthur Link said the lottery vote two years ago was "a little more than a public opinion poll," and the result could be turned around in November when voters decide a constitutional amendment."Join the fold of the no-lottery states," he urged several hundred people at an anti-lottery organizational meeting Wednesday night.
Link was invited to Idaho by a group called "Concern," which is campaigning against approval of a constitutional amendment to allow a state lottery. Voters approved a lottery initiative two years ago, but the state Supreme Court ruled that measure was unconstitutional.
Link, governor from 1973-81, said opponents of the lottery face an uphill, but not impossible battle. In 1984, he said, polls showed 60 percent favored a lottery in North Dakota, but on election day, 56 percent voted against it.
The issue was on the ballot again in 1986, he said, and 58 percent of the voters voted against.
"You have got the ingredients of turning the lottery vote away," he said.
Link said that the lottery is a moral and social issue but opposition is not confined to religious leaders.
"Every business person should rise up against the lottery," he said. "The billions of dollars spent today on gambling and the lottery has an adverse impact on the health of businesses in this country."
With money diverted away from businesses, he said, the state loses sales tax revenue. Another fundamental concern, he said, is state government being put in the role of promoting a get-rich scheme.
"If this measure passes, it would put the state in the gambling business," he said, and 75 percent of each dollar wagered would go for prizes. The state would receive only 25 percent in taxes.
He said that if Idahoans want to fund services, they should do so though normal channels and not through the idea that somebody could get lucky with the numbers.
"Lottery is not a game, it's a serious business," Link said.
Randy of Furniss of Boise, who is heading up the anti-lottery campaign, said that because of all the races and issues two years ago, the lottery issue did not receive due consideration. The purpose of "Consider," he said, is to to find out the friends and foes of the lottery.