Expanded Gambling Plan Dealt Setback

JULY 7, 2006 - Posted at 7:59 a.m. CDT

WEST MEMPHIS, AR - The possible use of video poker at dog and horse tracks has faltered in the stretch.  At its meeting yesterday in West Memphis, the state Racing Commission failed to approve regulations governing electronic games of skill because of problems with paying for audits.

Voters in Hot Springs and West Memphis last year authorized expanded gambling at their hometown tracks, Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis.  The Racing Commission was charged with deciding on what new games should be allowed.

It had been expected that commissioners would approve final regulations today.  But questions were raised at a 90-minute hearing on who would have final say over audits, the Racing Commission or its parent agency, the Department of Finance and Administration.  Racing Commission Manager Shelby McCook, however, said there is nothing in the state budget to cover licensing or enforcement.  He said any significant changes in the proposed regulations would require additional public hearings, and no additional money would be available until next year's legislative session.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)