Oklahoma Regulators Preparing Gaming Rules

by Jerry Shottenkirk
Gaming at Oklahoma racetracks is closer to reality, Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission officials said Jan. 27 during their monthly meeting. Rules that would govern alternative gaming will be formulated in a month, they said.

Remington Park in Oklahoma City and Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw already have approved racing dates for 2005, but Will Rogers Downs in Claremore continues to seek approval for a 12-day Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Appaloosa, and Paint season Nov. 5-Dec. 11.

The racing commission hasn't yet approved a racing license for Will Rogers Downs, but Mel Webb, the commission's director of law enforcement, told commissioners a background check yielded satisfactory results. The Cherokee Indian tribe purchased Will Rogers Downs, and if a license is granted the tribe will pursue gaming opportunities.

The commission tabled the issue until its February meeting. Will Rogers Downs hasn't held a live meet for several years.

Charlie Bradshaw, director of business development for Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns Remington, said the track is ready to formulate its plans for expansion of the grandstand to allow an area for electronic gaming machines. Remington will have 750 devices, the most of any track.

Horsemen in Oklahoma have estimated purses will increase by $30 million at the three tracks once the devices are operating.

Oklahoma voters last November approved the State-Tribal Gaming Act, which authorizes electronic gaming at the three tracks and an expansion of gambling at Indian casinos. A share of revenue from tribal casinos in the Tulsa area will go to support racing operations at the state's fourth track, Fair Meadows Tulsa.