Expanded Gambling Wins Big in West Memphis

NOVEMBER 9, 2005 - Posted at 7:48 a.m. CST

WEST MEMPHIS, AR - Voters in West Memphis and Hot Springs approved local ballot items that will allow additional forms of gambling at racetracks in those cities.

Sixty-four percent of voters were in favor of the measure in West Memphis, but the margin was tiny in Hot Springs, where 9,401 people voted and the gambling measure passed by 89 votes.

Legislators this year gave the communities on the right to authorize "electronic games of skill" on track grounds.  Such games are generally believed to be games like video poker, though the Arkansas Racing Commission will approve the types of games.

Gambling opponents who fought the measures say they may challenge the law that authorized the elections.

Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis each argued that expanded gambling will help the tracks compete.  Oaklawn spokesman Terry Wallace says the track will be able to offer bigger purses and maintain quality racing.

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