VLT Legislation Introduced in Arizona

According to an article in the Feb. 5 edition of the Arizona Republic legislation has been introduced to allow Thoroughbred and Greyhound tracks to operate video lottery terminals (VLTs) at their facilities.

Senate President Randall Gnant, a Republican from Scottsdale and potential candidate for the governor's office later this year, introduced a legislative referendum Feb. 4 that would give tracks the ability to operate up to 1,000 machines. The legislation would not allow the tracks to operate table games that are allowed at the 19 Native American casinos in the state.

If the Legislature approves the bill, voters would have their say on the initiative on the November ballot. Gov. Jane Hull is on record as being against any expanded gaming in the state.

Gnant received help on the bill from the newly formed Arizona Racetrack Alliance, formed in January to help get the legislation off the ground. The alliance is composed of Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Tucson Greyhound Park, and American Greyhound Racing, the company that owns Apache Greyhound Park and Phoenix Greyhound Park.

"We are pleased that Sen. Gnant understands what's at stake," said Amy Rezzonico, spokeswoman for the ARA. "We'd welcome a fair and equitable solution for everybody.

"When the Governor said in her State of the State address that she would oppose any expanded off-reservation gaming at local racetracks, she made it clear that gaming in Arizona would remain a casino monopoly," Rezzonico said. "If it turns out that the state not only limits gaming to casinos, but also expands gaming, then the racing industry's survival would be threatened, and Arizona could be faced with losing more than $20 million in annual tax revenues at time when budget deficits are rising."

The Alliance has also hired a public affairs firm, Hill and Knowlton, to carry their message to the state's voters.

The legislation, which is "has lots of details to work out and is a good starting point," according to Rezzonico, limits the hours of operation of the VLTS from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. The operation would be regulated by the Arizona Department of Racing, not the Gaming Department, which oversees Native American facilities.