Huckabee Says He'll Let Gambling Bill Become Law

MARCH 16, 2005 - Posted at 3:57 p.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Governor Huckabee said today he will allow to become law a bill that would give local voters the option to expand gambling at race tracks in Garland and Crittenden counties.

Voters would be able to choose whether to expand electronic gambling at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis.

Huckabee, a Baptist minister and critic of previous gambling measures, said in a letter to Senator Jim Argue, the president pro tem, that he considered vetoing the bill.  But Huckabee said he did not believe the veto would be sustained.  Plus, Huckabee said, local voters would have the ultimate say on whether gambling would be expanded in their communities.

Huckabee doesn't have to sign the bill, it can become law by sitting on his desk.

The tracks said they want the bill so they can better compete with casinos in surrounding states.  The bill passed the House after Representative Otis Davis of Earle, who is pastor of the Earle First Baptist Church, asked that the measure be approved.  Davis said the bill would create jobs for his community.

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