Montana Lawmakers Dismisses Rep. Tony Belcourt's Blackjack Bill

A Montana Representative was hoping to promote a bill that would permit blackjack in Montana but it was not endorsed by other state officials. The Senate Finance and Claims committee decided against the proposal that would approve blackjack in Montana on April 29th, 2011. Rep. Belcourt said that blackjack tax earnings will be allocated for "disabled and poor persons". The proposal, which was sponsored by Rep. Tony Belcourt, plans to allow blackjack in the state in order to prevent blackjack money from residents from leaving Montana. No one testified in favor of the proposal despite the state of Montana being well-known to have more blackjack enthusiasts per square mile compared with other US states. Rep. Belcourt said that he owns a bar and he has seen his business earnings dropped after the smoking ban was enforced in 2009. He said that his blackjack proposal is a tool that will help businesses like his stay viable during the economic crisis and will help the state provide basic services. A known gaming expansion critic, Sue Rolfing, who has blocked the issue for more than twenty years, criticized Rep. Belcourt's proposal as a big gaming expansion bill that is disguising as a social services funding proposal. She added that by 2015, the blackjack proposal would only produce $98,838 dollars for disabled and poor individuals. The first of the five brothers that are not in favor of Rep. Belcourt's proposal and an owner of six pubs and gaming establishments in Montana, Douglas Palagi, said that the proposal is biased against individuals who are small business owners like himself. Douglas Palagi added that he owns six pubs and mini-casinos that offer just three hundred video poker machines and he has no space to install blackjack tables. Tony Palagi, Douglas Palagi's brother and owner of gaming facilities in Cut Bank and Great Falls, said that Rep. Belcourt's blackjack proposal will only affect the balance of the gaming landscape in Montana.


31 2011