Crittenden County Residents Protest Bill to Expand Race Track Gambling

MARCH 14, 2005 - Posted at 3:31 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Residents of Hot Springs and West Memphis are speaking out against a proposal in the Legislature to expand gambling at race tracks in their cities.  Officials of Oaklawn Park horse racing track at Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis say legislation to expand the use of electronic games of skill would make the tracks more competitive with gambling operations in surrounding states.

But Hot Springs teacher Gabe Allen says the bill would open the door to video poker and other games that are addictive and carry a high social cost.  Retired school superintendent Herbert Cook of Marion says family and small business bankruptcies, insurance fraud and higher crime are just some of the social ills that expanded gambling is likely to spawn.  The two were among more than two dozen people who protested the proposal at the state Capitol today.

The bill by Senator Bob Johnson of Morrillton passed the Senate last week and is awaiting a hearing before the House Rules Committee.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)