Supporters of gaming proposal lead opponents in fund-raising

Tuesday, October 12th 2004, 10:24 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) The main group supporting a gaming proposal involving horse racing tracks and Indian casinos lead opponents in fund-raising by about a seven-to-one margin, according to a contributions report.

Oklahomans for Education and Jobs reported it has raised almost $2.3 million to support the proposal, State Question 712.

Oklahomans for Good Government, the main group fighting SQ 712, has raised $302,865.

The Chickasaw and Cherokee tribes and the Choctaw Nation have each given $500,000 to Oklahomans for Education and Jobs and Remington Park horse track contributed $250,000

There are no contribution limits on state issue campaigns.

Cherokee Nation spokesman Mike Miller said the tribe's contribution is an investment in regulatory certainty.

All donors were connected to the tribal casino and horse racing industries, according to the report filed Monday with the state Ethics Commission.

The proposal, which will be on the Nov. 2 general election ballot, would allow three Oklahoma horse tracks to operate electronic casino machines. It also would authorize tribal casinos that compact with the state to offer a faster type of machine, plus video poker and card games in which players compete against each other, not the house.

The state would collect money from both industries. State Finance Director Scott Meacham estimates that share at $71 million a year, all earmarked for education.

Oklahomans for Good Government, headed by state Rep. Forrest Claunch, R-Midwest City, received $205,000 last month from the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

It also received $5,000 from the Sac and Fox Nation, which contends the proposal diminishes tribal sovereignty.

The Baptist contributions came before the convention held an Oct. 3 campaign aimed at raising $1 for each person in church that day. A convention spokesman said results of that fund drive are undetermined.