I was reading an article that had a quote from A Democrat Legislator from Box Elder, Tony Belcourt. Their answer to funding state programs is calling for more gambling...are you serious. Shouldn't surprise me, keep the people asking for assistance.The article in the Great Falls Tribune Follows:

Gamblers would have more ways to spend their money if two bills before the Montana Legislature are approved.

Live card games of blackjack, a game in which players try to get close to a score of 21, would be legalized under House Bill 423, introduced by Rep. Tony Belcourt, D-Box Elder.

A separate bill, Senate Bill 361, would add a new type of gaming machine to Montana's list of approved devices. A hearing on the bill, introduced by Sen. Rick Ripley, R-Wolf Creek, is set for 8 a.m. today in Helena.

Supporters of more varied gambling in Montana contend changes are needed to make state gaming establishments more competitive.

"Everybody's gambling online," Belcourt said Thursday. He said it would be better for Montanans to gamble at local establishments rather than online.

"Times like this, we've got to do something different," Belcourt said.

He said he hopes a vote by the House Appropriations Committee on the bill will come as soon as next week.

Belcourt said a Feb. 10 hearing on the bill "went all right," but expressed surprise that several state gaming organizations took no position on it. Under the bill, proceeds from blackjack games would finance various state social service and health programs.

"I don't think they really thought it had a chance," Belcourt said of gaming interests. He said the legislation has a shot at being approved, adding that he believes people gamble with "discretionary" money rather than cash needed for food or rent.

"I think we're all adults," Belcourt said in a phone interview.

Blackjack bets would be capped at $25 under the proposed bill.

Belcourt said he also may submit a bill that would double pot limits in card games from $300 to $600. Belcourt said that proposal does not have a bill number at this time.

Meanwhile, Senate Bill 361 will be heard by the Senate Business and Labor Committee at 8 a.m. today in Room 422 of the state Capitol in Helena.

Ripley's bill would allow electronic "video line games" to be played in Montana, along with the already approved electronic keno, bingo and poker machines. Language in the bill said a video line game is not a slot machine and does not directly dispense coins, cash or tokens.

Even so, critics may try to compare video line games to slot machines, which have long been illegal in Montana. The bill does not provide details of how the video line games would work or look.

Ripley's bill specifies that the payout from a video line machine would be between 80 and 92 percent. Ripley could not be reached for comment.