Blue Ribbons Downs casino application amended

Thursday, September 15th 2005, 5:01 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Blue Ribbon Downs moved a step closer Thursday to becoming the first horse racing track in Oklahoma to offer casino gambling as a state panel eased a bonding requirement.

At the request of Bob Rabon, attorney for the Choctaw Nation, commissioners voted unanimously to drop a requirement that the operator of the so-called racino, Backstretch L.L.C, carry a $1 million surety bond.

Rabon said the Choctaw Nation, which owns the track, had met 11 of the 12 conditions for a license set down by the commission, including surrendering its sovereign immunity in connection with the operation of the casino at the track in Sallisaw.

Rabon said requiring a $1 million surety bond, which would cost $30,000 to $40,000 a year, would be excessive and unnecessary, considering the tribe's heavy investment in Blue Ribbons Downs and its willingness to take other steps to guarantee prize money would be protected.

He said the tribe was in excellent financial condition.

"They have a lot of assets and they have no debt," he said.

Rabon also said the bond requirement was not part of state law allowing the gaming.

Instead of requiring a bond, the commission accepted the Choctaws' offer to set up a $100,000 account to handle big prizes.

The commission, meeting at Remington Park, did not go along with Rabon's request that Blue Ribbon be allowed to install certain games without testing for compliance with commission rules. The attorney argued the games met standards set in tribal compacts and should not have to be certified as complying with commission rules.

Frank Deal, general manager of Blue Ribbons, said hopes to have games up and running by the first week of October. The track has been approved for 250 game machines.

Remington Park, which has been approved for 650 game machines in its first year, is planning to open its casino later in the year.

Will Rogers Downs at Claremore also has an application to operate a casino pending before the commission.