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Arkansas Panel Approves Video Measure

7 March 2003

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas – As reported by the Associated Press: "A plea to help Hot Springs helped move legislation to allow the state's two racetracks to expand wagering on video games from a Senate committee to the floor of the chamber.

"The Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee voted Wednesday to endorse the bill, 4-2, after sponsoring Sen. Terry Smith, D-Hot Springs, implored his colleagues to `vote for this bill to help my hometown.'

"Smith said the measure would boost tourism and create `a ton of new jobs in Hot Springs and West Memphis' while generating millions of dollars for college scholarships.

"…Critics contended the promise of new revenue would not pan out but that expanding gambling would increase gambling addition and other social ills. "I would hope that we would resist the urge to exploit those who can least afford it," said Sen. Tim Wooldridge, D-Paragould, the committee chairman.

"…Video poker and other so-called games of skill would be allowed at Oaklawn Park thoroughbred track in Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis. Both tracks already offer electronic Instant Racing, wagers on previously run races.

"Track officials said the addition would enable their operations to compete more effectively with casinos in surrounding states, help boost Arkansas tourism and provide much-needed revenue for the state…"

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