Oklahoma Gaming Bill Heads to Governor

A spokesman for Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry says the governor could sign the gaming bill on his desk by early next week.

The bill is designed to rescue the financially troubled horse racing industry by allowing three pari-mutuel tracks to have the same electronic gaming devices as Oklahoma Indian casinos.

House leaders had been trying to pass the bill's emergency clause, which requires a two-thirds vote, but they gave up Monday and voted to send it to Henry.

Without the emergency clause, the bill will take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session.

That leaves open the possibility Midwest City Republican Forrest Claunch will lead a referendum drive to sidetrack the measure.

Claunch says he's seriously considering launching a referendum drive to stop the gaming bill on its way to Governor Henry.

The governor has said he'll sign the bill designed to aid the state's horse-racing industry by allowing electronic gaming at three racetracks.

Claunch is chairman of Oklahomans for Good Government, a group that lobbied against the gaming measure. He says he's received numerous calls advocating a referendum drive to stop the gaming measure.

Claunch would need a minimum of 51,781 signatures on referendum petitions to force a statewide vote.

Supporters say the gaming bill would raise more than $70-million for education and save 50,000 horse industry jobs.

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