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Truth Test: State Question 712 ads

Supporters call it the "Education and Jobs Referendum," but detractors call it an unwarranted expansion of gambling. It’s State Question 712.

If voters approve it, Indian tribes could add new types of gambling and the state would get some of the profit. The supporter’s ads are the subject of this Truth Test from News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan.

The supporters of State Question 712 are running two television ads. Announcer: Educators horseman business leaders and tribal leaders all over Oklahoma support State Question 712. But that support isn't universal. Several large tribes - with big gambling operations - have no official position on it.

Three of the state's larger tribes openly support it. A relatively small tribe, the Sac and Fox, opposes it.

The supporters of 712 include several horse breeding groups - but that shouldn't be a surprise since they'll get a cut of the money. Three of the state's horse tracks stand to benefit too, either through direct subsidies from tribal gambling - or because they can expand casinos at the track.

One of the ads features a teacher - and makes the claim. Announcer: "712 would provide $71-million a year in new funds to education without raising taxes." That's an optimistic projection that would require a huge increase in gambling, because the state would get only a small part of the tribe's profits. Right now - the state doesn't get anything.

The opponents of State Question 712 - a group called “Oklahomans for Good Government” are mainly church people. Oklahoma Baptists started raising money to run their own ads this week. Rev Lonnie Latham with South Tulsa Baptist Church: "So of course we're going to be involved so we're going to share what the word of God has to say about the moral ethic of working and the moral ethic of taking care of other people because when you gamble that means that someone loses so someone else can win."

The Baptists hope they can make some inroads with advertising in the last four weeks of the campaign. Though the governor has said the state question wouldn't expand gambling it gives horse tracks the opportunity to add gambling machines and specifically does not limit the expansion of Indian casinos. In fact, tribes believe they can expand with a more clear definition of state approved gambling machines.
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