Oklahomans Approve Racetrack Slots Initiative; Florida Outcome Still Undecided

Approximately 59% of voters in Oklahoma cast ballots Tuesday in favor of the "State-Tribal Gaming Act" that authorizes electronic gaming operations at the three privately-owned Oklahoma racetracks and directs a share of gaming revenues from Tulsa area tribes to the publicly-owned fourth track.

According to Magna Entertainment, which operates Remington Park, the act provides for a "model" tribal-state gaming compact for the conduct of specified types of gaming and must be ratified by at least four Oklahoma Indian tribes. The types of electronic gaming devices the private racetracks are authorized to conduct include Electronic Bonanza-style Bingo, Electronic Instant Bingo, Electronic Amusement Games, and any other Class II electronic game operated by an Oklahoma Indian tribe, all as specifically authorized by the state, according to Magna, which would be permitted to operate up to 750 gaming machines at Remington.

Two other private racetracks -- Will Rogers Downs and Blue Ribbon Downs, would be allowed to operate a maximum of 250 machines. Gaming operations at the racetracks are permitted for up to 18 hours per day, not to exceed 106 hours per week. The distribution of revenues from the racetracks' electronic gaming operations will vary based on the annual gross revenues of the racetrack from gaming less all monetary payouts, with between 10% and 30% of the adjusted gross revenues from gaming at each racetrack to the State (primarily for the funding of education), between 20% and 30% for the benefit of horsemen and the remaining 50% to 60% to the racetrack, out of which the racetrack operator will pay its capital and operating costs.

Meanwhile, the fate of slot machine gambling in South Florida was too close to call late Tuesday, according to the Palm Beach Post.

The newspaper reported that with most of the state's precincts counted, there was less than half a percent difference between those supporting and opposing an amendment that would allow slot machines at dog and horse tracks and jai-alai frontons in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Similar measures have lost three times within the past 26 years, and Fair Share, a political action committee supporting the initiative, reportedly spent more than $15 million to get the issue on the ballot.

Supporters of slots at South Florida tracks said the initiative would raise funds for education, estimating the state's schools would receive a $438 million from the taxes on the new machines. Gov. Jeb Bush opposed the initiative.