Debate continues over State Question 712

Tuesday, October 26th 2004, 10:39 am
By: News On 6

In less than a week, Oklahoma voters will decide several state questions on gambling - that could either raise millions for education - or cost society even more.

The two sides on State Question 712 debated some of those issues Tuesday and News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan was there.

There is a war on the airwaves and a battle on the ground over whether voters should approve an expansion of gambling that promises to create money for education.

Cherokee Nation Chief Chad Smith: “712 is a referendum on whether Oklahoma should share in gaming proceeds and if the horse industry should survive and if education should benefit.”

State Question 712 opponent Rev Lonnie Latham: “It is again the transfer of dollars that already exists in Oklahoma from one pocket to another, but it doesn't generate any new income.”

Under 712, the state would allow tribes to use new higher stakes slot machines and the tribes would give the state a cut of the money. The state would allow those same new machines at horse tracks too - and that would subsidize horse racing.

Chief Smith says the expanded gambling wouldn't do the social harm that critics suggest. “It's an entertainment enterprise, people go there to enjoy themselves, people go there to enjoy themselves, just as they spend entertainment dollars when they do to an OU football game.”

Rev Lonnie Latham: “In order for a person to win anything of substance means a great many people must lose and the people who are drawn to this make the least amount of money in our state and it becomes the greatest expense to them.”