One-Arm Job

And now, on tape, from the capital of Mardi Gras Gaming, it's Sunday Morning Live!

Jenne failed to return my phone calls for comment. Guess he only does TV now. Plus, I never contributed to their campaigns.

Gibbons did get back to me. He said he was called to do the "educational" show by Bill Henkel, who is president of Florida Educational Television, the Fort Lauderdale company that produced the show.

Gibbons, who has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from pari-mutuels, said he's been a huge supporter of the gambling industry for years. I asked him if he plays the slots.

"No," he said. "But if I had $20 or $50 and I was there, I'd throw it into a slot machine. It's entertainment. I like to go to shows. The slot machine would be my performer."

I asked him if he was worried about appearing too cozy with the industry, especially since gambling creates addicts and playing slots isn't exactly a model activity for the citizenry. Sitting down and feeding money into a noisy, lit-up box isn't exactly the stuff of the Enlightenment, after all.

"It's wholesome," he said. "It's just a form of entertainment."

Sounds like a new motto: "Play the slots, it's... wholesome!"

I also got Adkins on the phone and asked him how the TV show came to be.

"I don't know much about it," he told me. "All I know is that I was asked to sit down and do a TV show." Who asked? "The people in our marketing department."

Of course. I asked him how long he's been friends with Evan Jenne, wondering if it dated back to the first $500 contribution I could find that he'd given his father, back in 1995.

"I've known Evan and I've known his father for a long time," he explained. "How do you live in Broward County and not know Ken Jenne?"

It's true, the sheriff has formed personal friendships with all 1.8 million residents in Broward County. He's amazing like that.

Adkins soon wasn't pleased at the tone of my questioning.

"If you're going to do a negative story, God bless you, but how can these politicians not be interested in what we're doing?" he said. "We're sending a million or a million-two to the state every week. We're sending almost 4 percent of our revenue to cities and the county. I've gone from 120 jobs to 1,200 jobs."

I told him it just sounded as if Jenne and Gibbons were shilling for the industry. "I'm feeling insulted here, I really am," he said. "There is no controversy here. This is a legitimate, highly regulated industry. I'm going to go further. Call the police chief. Since we opened up here, crime has been cut in half."

Gosh, if the sheriff knew what gambling did to crime statistics, he could have avoided that whole Powertrac scandal.

As my interview with Adkins progressed, or digressed, he became increasingly exasperated with the questions.

"Bob, you are insulting me," he said. "This is dead wrong. Who do you think this is, Meyer Lansky sitting here? Why don't you go after Walt Disney and say that Goofy is controversial?"

He had me laughing, but he made an interesting comparison. Mafia legend Meyer Lansky was actually one of the early gambling moguls to operate in Hallandale. But it's really not a fair comparison. Lansky never had a TV show.

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