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Arkansas House Rejects Video Poker Legislation

4 April 2003

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – As reported by the Associated Press: "A bill to expand electronic wagering in Arkansas failed Thursday, one day after clearing a House committee.

"The House rejected legislation by Rep. Steven Jones, D-Marion, to authorize wagering on video poker and other so-called games of skill at Oaklawn Park thoroughbred track in Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis.

"…Jones said the revenue that his bill would generate -- estimated at $50 million annually -- would help with the state's budget shortfall by providing money for college scholarships and Medicaid programs.

"…But critics said the measure would open the state to further gambling and worried about the social costs.

"…Jones and others said Arkansans who want to gamble already do so at casinos in Mississippi or Louisiana, and that if the money is going to be lost anyway, it should benefit Arkansas programs.

"…Bill Wheeler of West Memphis, a counselor with an organization called Family First, said any benefits of the bill would be outweighed by an increase in social problems stemming from gambling…"

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