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Arizona Tracks Lobby for Video Slots

22 January 2002

ARIZONA – Jan. 22, 2002 –As reported by the Arizona Republic: " Four Arizona racetracks will lobby the Legislature for the right to install video gambling machines in their clubhouses, reversing their stand against seeking slot machines.

"A newly formed group, the Arizona Racetrack Association, says that competition from the state's 19 Indian casinos has endangered the horse- and greyhound-racing industry to the point where slot machines are necessary for survival.

"…The tracks want to use video lottery terminals, which closely resemble slot machines but pay winners not with coins but a computerized paper ticket redeemable for cash.

"It would be the first spread of Las Vegas-style gambling off the Indian reservations in Arizona, and could net the tracks up to $100 million a year in new revenues. State government would also get up to a $40 million cut of the action in the form of taxes.

"But the idea is likely to meet stiff resistance from Arizona's Indian tribes, whose $1 billion casino industry was thrown into legal limbo in July after Arizona racetracks won a federal lawsuit that declared Indian gaming compacts illegal.

"The racetracks insisted at the time that they were not on a quest to get slot machines for themselves.

"…Racetracks also will be claiming economic hardship in the upcoming lobbying fight, even despite state reports that show record-breaking earnings for the industry last fiscal year. According to figures from the Arizona Department of Racing, racetracks had revenues of $61 million at the close of fiscal 2001, up from $58 million the year before.

"…The members of the new Arizona Racetrack Association are Turf Paradise, Tucson Greyhound Park and American Greyhound Racing, the company that owns both Apache Greyhound Park and Phoenix Greyhound Park.

"…The drive mirrors a national trend. Racetracks in several other states have been slowly undergoing a metamorphosis into slot-machine houses with racing outside…"

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