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Gambling Interests Win in the South

In the 1998 South Carolina gubernatorial election Democrat Jim Hodges upset incumbent Republican Gov. David Beasley. Many felt Beasley would win re-election since he was a fairly popular incumbent. Beasley had pledged to rid South Carolina of the video-gambling industry. Hodges favored instating a state lottery to generate money for schools, and was more open to putting video gambling up for a statewide vote. The gambling industry favored Hodges' proposals and poured money into his campaign. Hodges received a whopping $1,312,064 from gambling interests for his campaign, compared to only $53,850 given to Beasley.

In North Carolina, a Democracy South September 2001 report found that the gambling industry's combined total of state and federal campaign contributions had jumped from $74,000 donated in the 1996 election cycle to the eye-popping $613,000 in the 2000 election cycle. According to the Raleigh News & Observer, there are about 9,000 video poker machines in North Carolina. Those machines brought in nearly $27 million in gross receipts during the first quarter of 2001. North Carolina Governor Mike Easley was the top recipient of video poker money, with $124,000 and the main aspect of his platform has been passing a lottery in North Carolina.

Whenever any one industry plays a major role in the election or defeat of a public official, they are sending a message to future candidates - beware of the power of our dollars. The fear of being targeted for defeat by an industry with deep pockets is enough to silence even those candidates who don't take the industry's campaign contributions. So the question must be asked: Why are we gambling with our democracy by allowing special interests to give money to public officials who are responsible for regulating them?


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[DemSouth logo]Democracy South : Improving Democracy : Gambling Interests Win
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