Whether or not a meeting of minds have been effected among those who profess to recognize the need for modernization of this ancient law, or whether the scattergun, every-man-for-himself approach will be tried again, this newspaper is not advised.
Certainly the performance of a year ago would seem to argue against anything less than a united front. what happened, it well be recalled, was that an admittedly drastic bill -- among other things it would have made the possession of such devices as slot machines a felony -- remained stranded for weeks in a Senate Committee. This measure, sponsored by Prosecuting Attorney Arch Riley, Ohio County, and endorsed by the Prosecuting Attorney's Association, became the center of controversy. A modified version was prepared in the Senate by Senators Chester R. Hubbard, Ohio County, and John E. Carrigan, Marshall County. Governor Smith also got into the act at the eleventh hour. The upshot was that, what with time running, the heat and confusion generated by the dispute prevented the completion of any legislation at all.
This experience should be sufficient to warn those who sincerely want the law strengthened against a repeat performance or delay that would endanger the enactment of a satisfactory bill. The time is short at best. Those who are interested in preserving the status quo because the law is inadequate -- this is the consensus of law enforcement officers -- to the challenge of modern commercialized gambling and present-day devices, will be on the job, exerting again their not inconsiderable influence. So unless the forces of reform can agree on realistic revisions which will put needed teeth into the gambling statute, this year's session may be no more fruitful than last year's was in advancing this important facet of law enforcement.
Early support for the anti-gambling bill did come. The News-Register reported that State Senator Chester R. Hubbard studied the bill, noting that it "distinguished between social and professional gambling and was something that he has been very interested in for a long time." Hubbard said that it differed from last years' failed bill and that if it "is all that it appears to be, (I) will support it wholeheartedly." Hubbard especially liked the bill for its provisions of providing "adequate tools to curtail professional gambling."