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God Lobby Asking Legislature to Defy Voters, Block Deadwood Craps, Keno, and Roulette

Speaking of religious apocalypticists steering our politics, South Dakota's leading theocracy advocates (Perry Groten calls them a "social advocacy nonprofit"—come on, Perry!) are calling on Christians to keep keno, craps, and roulette from wrecking the Redeemer's return:

A social advocacy nonprofit will lobby against a measure in the upcoming legislative session to authorize three new voter-approved games in Deadwood and at tribal casinos.

Family Heritage Alliance Action executive director Dale Bartscher says the group's board unanimously agreed this month to oppose the legislation.

He says the organization will be urging lawmakers in January not to authorize the new games, which 57 percent of voters supported as part of Amendment Q on Nov. 4 [Perry, Groten, "Non-Profit to Lobby Against New Deadwood Gaming,", 2014.12.13].

Good grief! What part of "The voters have spoken" do you Republicans not understand? We pass an initiative to raise the minimum wage, and you Republicans rumble about overturning it in the Legislature. We approve diversifying the games with which people can entertain themselves in Deadwood, and you Republicans (show of hands: how many Democrats belong to the political arm of Family Heritage Alliance? how many FHAA folks were lobbying their churchmates to vote for Democrats?) decide you'll sabotage the necessary enacting legislation.

I do appreciate FHAA's willingness to buck the free-market fundamentalism which they erroneously conflate with Christianity and get back to basics on this issue. Here's their pre-election statement against the constitutional amendment that was on the 2014 ballot:

Whereas in most cases, free market should be the primary regulator of business, in the case of an industry that generates so much addiction, societal ills, and even suicide, this should not be the case regarding the gambling industry. For instance, The National Council on Problem Gaming (NCPG) estimates that among South Dakotans, there are 18,000 adult gambling addictions which inflicts on the citizens of the state a whopping annual cost of almost $16 million. The NCPG also estimates that one in five problem gamblers will attempt suicide, putting this statistic at about twice the suicide rate of other addictions [Family Heritage Alliance Action, statement on Amendment Q, 2014.08.26].

I voted against craps, keno, and roulette myself. But the voters have spoken, and 56.69% of them said let Deadwood's casino industry do its thing. If the Legislature won't respect the voters' decision, it will respect the Deadwood casino lobby.

On the upside, we will get to witness the amusing spectacle of the Family Heritage Alliance casting its gentle Jesus against the state's true god, Mammon.


  1. Owen 2014.12.14

    But Cory don't you know that these people know what's best for us? The rest of us just don't understand. These people want to help us.
    I actually for it Cory. I don't gamble but if somebody wants to play the new games then that's ok with me

  2. larry kurtz 2014.12.14

    Oh look: the Mohican tribal nation is considering legal cannabis to draw patrons to their casinos.

    Only money prevents Pe'Sla from becoming an off-reservation casino.

  3. larry kurtz 2014.12.14

    So, an SDP analog would theoretically lobby the legislature to reverse the chilling effects on woman, especially those at lower incomes, seeking a D & C because SDDP's chair doesn't support reproductive freedoms, right?

  4. JeniW 2014.12.14

    If the legislators block the new games at Deadwood, it would be another example of the legislators and the State being hypocrites.

    Just as the State condones and encourages the sell and consumption of alcohol, it condones and encourages gambling in its various forms. Gambling is gambling no matter what form is used.

    Heck, even someone winning a thousand dollars gets announced through the different media sources.

  5. Tim 2014.12.14

    To many legislators afraid of losing god's money, also afraid of losing business money, I expect the gambling and minimum wage results to be overturned this year. After all, that group of idiots know what's best for us, they are best group of legislators money can buy.

  6. grudznick 2014.12.14

    I think money could buy better, Mr. Tim.

  7. PNR 2014.12.14

    The voters have spoken!

    The voters have spoken regarding GOP office holders, too. Does that mean the Dems will never again field another candidate? After all, the voters have spoken...

    I am not of a mind to worry about which games people choose to fool away their money. In fact, I voted for the change (on more-or-less libertarian grounds that the state constitution shouldn't be mucking about in these kinds of details).

    But the "voters" are not gods whose writ is from on high, the sum of all wisdom and verity, to be received forever unchanging. Conservatives claim they are when they vote for conservatives (candidates or concepts), but not when they vote for liberals, and liberals think the same thing in reverse. Until the next election.

  8. mike from iowa 2014.12.14

    How wise is a deity that makes wingnuts as corrupt as they are in South Dakota?

  9. JeniW 2014.12.14

    MFI, you are blaming the wrong source of corruption, you need to blame the individuals who are corrupt, and those who support them.

  10. Jana 2014.12.14

    PNR, I would think that as a minister of the Lord you would say that He has spoken and that gambling and usury are still sins.

    The GOP hypocrisy and their cherry picking Christianity is astounding.

    I want to see pressure put on each and everyone of them to stand in front of their own community church and say why they are FOR gambling and usury and that God's word takes a back seat to campaign money from casinos and banks...(although with the recent vote by Kristi to have taxpayers fund bank gambling, maybe they are the same thing.)

  11. Donald Pay 2014.12.14

    I disagree.

    Amendment Q modifies the current Constitutional requirement that the Legislature may approve such games of chance. The amendment did not automatically approve those games, nor did it direct the Legislature to approve those games. Thus, anyone may present legislation to approve those new games, or one or two of the new games. The Legislature could also end all games of chance in Deadwood. Anyone may lobby on any side of these bills without conflicting with the vote on Amendment Q.

  12. Jana 2014.12.14

    PNR, by a wide margin, the voters of these United States of America elected Barack Obama as their President...and the GOP quickly went into action to negate the voice of the voters.

    Congratulations on your respect for the will of the voters.

  13. mike from iowa 2014.12.14

    JeniW-people are made in his/her/its image. If they are corrupt it is because they were made that way.

  14. mike from iowa 2014.12.14

    If god didn't want abortions,he/she/it should be capable of deciding that for his/her/its self and would not need wingnuts doing his/her/its bidding on Earth. Methinks wingnuts are overplaying their god hand to baffle gullible sheeples.

  15. Jana 2014.12.14

    The Family Heritage Alliance should challenge every minister to stand in the pulpit and speak to usury and gambling...challenge every minister's commitment to the Word. And while they are at it, they could speak to "But Lord...when did I see you sick or hungry?" And the Lord will say, When your hatred of the President had you deny Medicaid expansion and cut funding to the hungry and choose to rather fund a billion dollar F-35 jet that the military doesn't want or need."

  16. JeniW 2014.12.14

    MFI, that is funny. Thank you for the chuckle.

  17. jerry 2014.12.14

    Who can blame the religious right for their outrage on this gambling? They want to fleece the marks, they do not want the gambling industry to do that. In church, you cannot drink while getting fleeced. At Deadwood, you not only get fleeced, you can get entertained while doing so. This legal gambling is to much competition for the God squad that hurts their bottom line.

  18. grudznick 2014.12.14

    Mr. mike from Iowa, you're saying they are overgodding. I tend to agree. Overgodders really make me want to have somebody knock them into a cocked hat.

  19. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.14

    Donald, point taken. Did the organizers of Amendment Q expect a two-tier fight? Did voters understand the amendment that way?

  20. Karl Kroger 2014.12.15

    As a United Methodist and a progressive, I'm very appreciative of FHA's anti-gambling efforts. Folks around here who might tout their concerns for the underdog, might consider that FHA's work on this issue, can also be seen as as something progressives can get behind. As for much of the rest of FHA's agenda denying rights to certain people and privileging conservative Christians over other citizens, I hope to add my small efforts to counter their work.

  21. Steve Sibson 2014.12.15

    Point one: Dominion theology is not Biblical.

    Point two: "The voters have spoken", no gay marriage in South Dakota, but that is not stopping Cory and is immoral political activists from undoing that democratic action.

  22. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.15

    Karl, FHA's push could be all the more interesting if it can forge real communication and collaboration with progressive/liberal/Democratic organizations. Do you have any sense of whether FHA is capable of courting liberal allies?

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.15

    Sibby! Good morning! The main difference between Amendment Q on craps etc. and the 2006 Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is that in 2006, South Dakota voters spoke in slim favor of a measure that the judicial branch for the most part has determined violates the federal constitution. Offer me an argument that allowing craps in Deadwood violates the U.S. Constitution, and you'll have a point.

  24. Steve Sibson 2014.12.15

    Cory, I offer the 10th amendment that gives South Dakota the right to run our state the way we want. Unfortunately, that was killed when the feds used military force to get the 14th ratified. The 14th has been inappropriately used by the SCOTUS to violate the Bill of Rights.

    Is it against South Dakota's Constitution to trump the majority of South Dakotans by the use of State Statutes passed by the legislature and signed by the governor?

  25. Steve Sibson 2014.12.15

    "And the Lord will say, When your hatred of the President had you deny Medicaid expansion and cut funding to the hungry"

    Jana show me where in the Bible did Jesus say that the people should insist that Caesar allow the poor to covet from their rich neighbors by using his authority so the people don't have to take care of the poor?

  26. JeniW 2014.12.15

    I would argue that if enough people really objected to gambling, and stopped gambling, businesses and the state government would stop earning a profit, and would get out of the gambling business.

    It is like blaming the drug dealers for people who use "mood enhancement" drugs. People make the choice to gamble whether they are "addicted" or not.

    Convince people that they should not buy lottery tickets, that they should stop going to casinos, stop betting on horse races, football games and etc., problem solved.

  27. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.15

    Steve, you got it backwards. I asked you to show me a Constitutional provision that Amendment Q conceivably violates. You showed me one that it does not violate.

  28. Steve Sibson 2014.12.15

    Cory, my argument is that it is not unconstitutional for the legislature to reverse Amendment Q. FHAA is not challenging the issue via the courts, so your question is irrelevant.

    If only 5 Americans can trump the majority, why do you have a problem with 60 or so legislators doing the same thing?

  29. larry kurtz 2014.12.15

    Face it, South Dakota: the Sibsonists own the freaking legislature.

  30. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.15

    Ships crossing. Steve, you offered an analogy to the battle over same-sex marriage. I rejected the analogy, pointing out there the judiciary has been throwing same-sex marriage bans on constitutional grounds, while FHA is proposing a simple legislative override of what appears to be the popular will. I'm simply trying to keep the debate tidy by blocking extraneous arguments. Your comment about same-sex marriage is extraneous.

  31. larry kurtz 2014.12.15

    Steve is exactly right here: nobody in the SDDP has an effective voice to even counter his opinions not even Cory.

  32. Steve Sibson 2014.12.15

    Cory, your post is going after FHAA for "defying the voters". That is representative government protecting minority rights. That is how a constitutional republic is suppose to operate. And I gave an example to show that you too take the anti-majority position on certain issues yourself. So find another reason to say the FHAA should not be allowed to challenge the voters. I may or may not agree with the FHAA's reason for challenging the voters, but they certainly can if they want.

    The problem I have with Amendment Q is that it expands the size of government by giving it more revenue. All that does is give the crony capitalists of South Dakota more money to play with. It is just another example of a public/private partnership that favors the crony capitalists. You so-called progressives should be on board with the FHAA on this one, but your anti-Christian worldview is getting into the way.

  33. Steve Sibson 2014.12.15

    "I do appreciate FHAA's willingness to buck the free-market fundamentalism "

    Another wrong reason Cory. Public/private partnerships are not free-market.

  34. JeniW 2014.12.15

    Here is another option: Require everyone who wants to gamble (in whatever form that consist of) to have a permit to gamble.

    Obtaining a permit would mean paying a fee like hunters do to get a hunting license, and receive counseling about the ugliness of gambling, and financial counseling to make sure that gamblers understand the financial impact of gambling.

    Everyone who is old enough to gamble must have a permit, and carry it and show it every time they gamble . They must have the permit to purchase lottery tickets like those that can be bought at HyVee and at gas stations, play video lottery, or any games. That includes the senior citizens who hop on the bus to go to any of the SD casinos.

    The permit would be good for five years, then be renewed by attending another counseling session, and paying a fee.

    For tourists and out-of-state visitors who come to SD and want to gamble, they can obtain two-day permit which can be had by paying a fee, and by signing a form which list the uglies of gambling.

  35. Steve Sibson 2014.12.15

    How about a truly free-market option. Anybody can run a gambling business and pay the same taxes all others pay. No extra money going to the government. What will that do to the government made monopolies in Deadwood and on the Reservations?

  36. larry kurtz 2014.12.15

    The reservations don't care what you think, Steve.

  37. JeniW 2014.12.15

    Steve s., are you thinking of making a spare room in your house a place where people can come to play poker, bet on football games, and other games such as Monopoly, for legal tender?

    Make sure that you customers are those whom you can trust not to inform the authorities, otherwise the state and feds will be arranging for a sting. LOL

  38. Steve Sibson 2014.12.15

    JeniW, in a free-market the role of government is to make sure we all have an opportunity to make money on gambling. Sad that you enjoy governmental authority giving certain crony capitalists a monopoly.

  39. leslie 2014.12.15

    Pe' Sla a casino, Larry? Whadayah mean?

  40. JeniW 2014.12.15

    Steve S., I do not like the idea of flushing my money down the toilet by gambling, so I do not do so.

    I just think it is hilarious that there are so many double and triple standards.

    If you really oppose gambling you would also oppose free-market gambling instead of advocating for it.

    I stand by my stance that people should have a permit to gamble, to consume alcohol, and to smoke. They all have their uglies and there are victims whom pay the price.

  41. Bill Fleming 2014.12.15

    Hey, Larry, do you know if the Pe' Sla land purchase included Flag Mountain?

    Sibby, do you know that there has never, ever been such a thing as "free-market capitalism" and that governments have always been involved?

  42. larry kurtz 2014.12.15

    Flag Mountain is on Forest Service.

  43. larry kurtz 2014.12.15

    leslie, the tribes have $10 million in debt for the purchase: hard to imagine paying for it without some form of cash flow.

  44. Roger Cornelius 2014.12.15

    And Sibson continues to covet Madville Times.

  45. leslie 2014.12.15

    Thanks, Larry. I can't imagine you mean a casino on-site.

  46. larry kurtz 2014.12.15

    leslie, off-reservation properties can operate women's clinics, casinos, spiritual retreats, even cannabis operations to attract visitors without the ridiculous interference of the State of South Dakota.

  47. leslie 2014.12.15

    Sure, but Pe' Sla is a location connected to star knowledge and is sacred, as I understand. Don't mean to argue here.

  48. larry kurtz 2014.12.15

    No argument intended. Sacred even means different things to the many tribes that are part of the investment group. None of what we say here matters to the Nations.

  49. Steve Sibson 2014.12.15

    "Sibby, do you know that there has never, ever been such a thing as "free-market capitalism"

    Yes I know that Bill because capitalism is not a free-market. It is closer to communism.

    JeniW, since you don't gamble then you favor government regulation so some of the money can pay for your medical costs, that you don't want to pay for. Not sure if that represents more greed than the crony capitalists.

  50. Bill Fleming 2014.12.15

    Okay, good. So Sibby, can you point to one instance in world history where any society organized beyond the "hunter/gatherer" level has ever successfully (i.e. to the overall benefit and general welfare of the people of that society) engaged in the "free-market" style of economy you advocate?

  51. JeniW 2014.12.15

    Oh, Steve, once again you gave me cause to chuckle. Thank you, on a dreary day like today, a good laugh is good for the soul.

  52. Steve Sibson 2014.12.15

    Has there been any society, beyond the "hunter/gatherer" level, that has achieved overall benefit and general welfare of the people?

  53. larry kurtz 2014.12.15

    Steve: before the Spanish decimated the Rio Grande cultures countless civilizations achieved overall benefit and general welfare of the people.

  54. Bill Fleming 2014.12.15

    As a matter of fact, Steve, yes there has. Here are (in order) the top 5 "happiest" countries on the planet: 1. Norway, 2. Denmark, 3. Sweden, 4. Australia, 5. New Zealand, and the top "saddest": 1. Central African Republic, 2. Republic of the Congo, 3. Afghanistan, 4. Chad, 5. Haiti.

    Now, Sibby would you care to do an analysis as to which of these countries come closest to having the type of "free-market" economy and absence of government involvement that you advocate?

  55. Steve Sibson 2014.12.16

    Fleming, how many of those happy counties are white Anglo-Saxon elites living off the resources of the colored sad countries? Note two of those happy counties are part of the British Commonwealth. Want to have a discussion about America just being another member of that elitist governmental structure? Or are you now shedding your cultural Marxism in order to gain power for the SDDP by joining in with the white rulers of South Dakota's crony capitalism? Let there be more happiness. Right?

  56. Bill Fleming 2014.12.16

    Irrelevant, Steve, answer my question. I answered yours.

  57. Karl Kroger 2014.12.16

    Unfortunately I doubt FHA Action can "forge real communication and collaboration with progressive/liberal/Democratic organizations" because despite their leader's compassionate heart, the organization is Rick Santorum / Ted Cruz conservative and polarizing.

    I also think creative partnerships are unlikely to form because it's really hard for progressive secular or religious groups in South Dakota to be successful (except maybe the emerging grassroots and reactionary gay rights movement--whom FHA is not going to partner with [Phil Jensen has inadvertently done more for equality in SD than Neil Patrick Harris]) so who would FHA work together with besides other conservative organizations, I can't think really think of anyone.

    That being said, FHA has partnered with those working on human trafficking issues and FHA is allowing Catholic Denny Davis and Evangelical Steve Hickey a platform in their anti-death penalty work. It's be nice to see FHA extend their gambling concerns carry over into Hickey and Hildebrand's predatory lending work, but I don't think their board have a consensus to back them.

  58. Steve Sibson 2014.12.16

    Amazing when Fleming and Cory get painted into a corner with reality, they call it irrelevant.

  59. larry kurtz 2014.12.16

    Sibby, you wouldn't know reality if it came up to you and kicked you in the nards.

  60. Bill Fleming 2014.12.16

    When Steve gets asked a question he doesn't want to — or can't — answer he tries to change the subject.

    Here it is again:

    "Sibby, can you point to one instance in world history where any society organized beyond the "hunter/gatherer" level has ever successfully (i.e. to the overall benefit and general welfare of the people of that society) engaged in the "free-market" style of economy you advocate?"

    It's not a difficult question, but granted, it may be difficult for him to come up with an answer. Mainly because I don't think there is one. Hence, his pitiful dissembling.

  61. larry kurtz 2014.12.16

    Sibby, name a christian culture that thrived under a free market.

  62. Steve Sibson 2014.12.16

    Bill, I answered the question. There has been no utopian society created by any kind of man-made system. Because people are happier than those they oppress does not make it utopian.

  63. larry kurtz 2014.12.16

    Sibby, you have no way of knowing that.

  64. Steve Sibson 2014.12.16

    Larry, Bill put the qualifier...'beyond the "hunter/gatherer" level'.

  65. larry kurtz 2014.12.16

    The Hopewell and countless others were far beyond being hunter/gatherers, Steve.

  66. Bill Fleming 2014.12.16

    Larry, not sure the market was free of "government" control in the societies you mention. Are you? I suspect there was an abundance of official central authority over individual trade arrangements. That's typically, what happens when a society advances from "band" to "chieftain' level. For more on this see Jered Diamond's most recent book, "The World Until Yesterday." I think you would really enjoy it.

  67. Bill Fleming 2014.12.16

    Sibby's still playing games with this, I see, but at least he admits that the model he posits has never been shown to be a workable solution to society's problems. One would think, if he was right, that history would be brimming with success stories of his theory's efficacy in practice. Instead, what we typically find is that so called "free-market" solutions typically lead to price fixing, price gouging, and oppression of one group of people over another (aka: tyranny).

  68. Steve Sibson 2014.12.16

    "so called "free-market" solutions typically lead to price fixing, price gouging, and oppression of one group of people over another (aka: tyranny)."

    The role of government is to not allow that to happen. Sadly today, government's role is to participate in partnerships that make those happen.

  69. Bill Fleming 2014.12.16

    Hey, Steve, we almost agree. Imagine that!

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