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Alaska's Republican Leaders Push for Video Poker, Lottery

13 November 2003

ALASKA – As reported by the Anchorage Daily News: "Republican leaders of the Alaska state House are pushing ahead on video poker and a state lottery and are pointing to a new poll as evidence that Alaskans are interested in more gambling.

"`This latest poll shows that Alaskans have basically changed their attitude,' said House Speaker Pete Kott, a Republican from Eagle River.

"But less than half the people surveyed by the recent poll supported video gambling initially. It was only after the pollster read them pro-gambling information that support for video gambling jumped to almost 60 percent.

"…The gambling debate tied legislators in knots last spring. Proponents said it would help with the state's budget problems without taxes or tapping the Permanent Fund. Opponents argued it would bring on expensive social ills.

"Kott and Anchorage Republican Rep. Mike Hawker, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, are touting the poll to bolster their arguments that lawmakers should consider gambling expansion.

"…The Alaska Cabaret, Hotel and Restaurant Retailers Association, which includes bars that would benefit from video poker, paid for the poll.

"…Kott said he has conducted polls in his own district that showed less than half of the people wanted more gambling. But the new poll shows 67 percent of Alaskans favor a lottery. And, the way Kott reads the results, more than half want video poker, he said.

"…In between the two questions the pollster gave the respondents favorable information about the video gambling proposal…"

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