Arkansas Tracks Seek Electronic 'Games of Skill'

Legislation to authorize electronic games of skill at Arkansas racetracks has been introduced by state lawmakers.

Under the bill, Oaklawn Park and Southland Greyhound Park would be able to install video games such as poker, blackjack, and other games, the Hot Springs Sentinel-Register reported. Games of chance are illegal in Arkansas, but the racetracks say games of skill are not prohibited.

Oaklawn in Hot Springs and Southland in West Memphis already offer Instant Racing, a pari-mutuel video lottery game that relies on the outcome of old races to pay winners. Gamblers can use handicapping information to determine their selections.

Oaklawn general manager Eric Jackson told the newspaper the new games would generate about $20 million a year for the state. Purses and breeder awards would get 15% of the revenue from the games.

Instant Racing, which has survived legal challenges, has fueled purse increases at Oaklawn the past few years. Jackson said a study suggested Oaklawn would have to spend $20 million to $25 million to properly accommodate the devices and generate player interest.

Jackson said that's a major investment given the fact there is "no other model anywhere in America of an operation that is limited to games of skill."