Casino gaming operations could begin at racetracks as soon as May

Friday, February 18th 2005, 11:49 am

By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Casino gaming could begin at two horse racing tracks as soon as May under a voter-approved measure that allows some tracks to offer the same electronic games as those allowed at American Indian casinos.

Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw and Will Rogers Downs in Claremore would be the first to offer the games, Gordon Hare, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission's executive director, said Thursday.

Officials at Remington Park in Oklahoma City hope to have casino games available in July or August.

Commissioners should be prepared to vote on 151 pages of rules involved in the new gaming at their next scheduled meeting March 17, Hare said. The rules were made available just this week.

They include about 90 pages of technical standards covering gaming machines and security and about 60 pages of other regulations.

Hare said a commission task force last year mostly used gaming rules from New Mexico, Iowa, Louisiana, South Dakota and other states.

``We have taken from those rules that are working in jurisdictions their useful regulatory rules and imposed similar requirements in this draft,'' Hare said.

After approval by the commission, the rules will go to Gov. Brad Henry for final approval. Once the rules are approved, track officials can apply for gaming licenses.

Remington Park can have up to 650 gaming machines and can expand to 700 machines at the end of three years and to 750 machines at the end of five years. The other two tracks each can have up to 250 machines.

Hare said he expects Blue Ribbon Downs and Will Rogers Downs will be able to get their licenses approved quicker partially because their owners _ the Choctaw and Cherokee nations respectively_ have casino-style gaming operations at other sites.

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