John Perkins believes it’s only a matter of time before he has the remainder of the signatures he needs to reserve a spot for riverboat gaming on Clark County’s November ballot.

Pastor Garry Pate is equally convinced that a third unified and successful move to oppose a Clark County casino is also inevitable.

During a forum on Tuesday at Jeffersonville’s Preservation Station, Perkins, a Jeffersonville councilman, told the roughly 20 people in attendance that he has already obtained about half of the 463 signatures he needs to place the gaming referendum on the fall ballot. “I hope to have them turned in (to Clark County Voter Registration) by the middle of June,” he said.

Pate, who is from Sellersburg, said he expects the initiative to lose by more than the 2,500 and 2,300 votes that defeated similar referendums in 1993 and 1995.

“I helped fight the last time,” Pate said. “We’ll do better this time.”

“It plays on the greed, the dark side of man,” he said. “Gambling produces nothing good.”

Pate said gaming opponents could mount a legal challenge to the referendum on the basis that it is “illegal” because it was initiated at the county level, rather than by the state.

“If people decide it’s good for Clark County, they’ll vote ‘yes,’” Perkins said. “If they don’t, they’ll vote ‘no.’”

One who plans to cast a ‘no’ vote is Jeffersonville resident Donna Spence. During Tuesday’s forum, Spence held up signs chiding Perkins for his support of the city’s smoking ban, which takes effect in mid June.

“Why do we want to attract this vice to our community?” she said. “The platitudes I’m hearing are disgusting. You can’t tell me that people haven’t bankrupted their families. You can’t tell me that people haven’t ended up in divorce court.”

Perkins pointed out that between the Hoosier and Kentucky lotteries, Caesars Indiana, Churchill Downs and the Indiana Downs off-track betting facility in Clarksville, casino opponents ought not to argue the virtues of keeping gaming out of Southern Indiana.

“Gaming is already here,” Perkins said. “The only thing that’s not here is the revenue for Clark County.”

Glenn Muncy, a Jeffersonville resident and former downtown restaurant owner, said, “I’d like to see (riverboat gaming) get on the (ballot) and pass and see what we can do with it.”

Muncy said the best way for Clark County residents to benefit from a casino is to ensure that the boat is owned by local citizens — in a fashion similar to the NFL’s Green Bay Packers — rather than an entertainment corporation that is based outside Southern Indiana.

“I want to see it for everybody,” Muncy said. “I’d love to see us all own one.”

It will take the signatures of 463 registered voters to place riverboat gambling on the fall ballot. Even if voters approve the initiative, there is no guarantee Clark County would ever be the home to a casino. State law allows for 11 licenses — including five on the Ohio River — and all are in use.

Voters in Crawford and Perry counties have approved referendums, but neither county hosts a casino.

So you know

For Clark County voters to have a third opportunity to consider riverboat gaming referendum, petitions including the signatures of 463 registered voters must be submitted to the county’s Voter Registration office no later than Aug. 1. Jeffersonville Councilman John Perkins said he expects to turn in the petitions in about two weeks. The number of signatures needed is determined by a percentage of the Clark County voters who cast ballots in the November 2002 Secretary of State’s race.

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