OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Brad Henry signed a bill Wednesday to authorize a statewide vote Nov. 2 on whether to allow pari-mutuel horse racing tracks to operate electronic gambling machines now played only at Indian casinos.
Senate Bill 1252 also repeals an earlier gaming bill that had been the target of a referendum petition drive by anti-gambling activists.
The measure also sets up a model gaming compact with Indian tribes and allows the state to regulate and share in the profit from tribal casinos. New language was added to the bill that would appropriate $250,000 annually for the treatment of gambling addiction and increase by 100 the number of machines that could be installed at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.
If approved by the voters, the law is expected to generate $71 million annually, most of which would fund public schools and college scholarships.
Illinois set to act on adding casinos to take on Indiana
Illinois legislators are expected to act this week on a proposal allowing new casinos and slot machines at racetracks to help reclaim some of the millions of dollars Chicago-area residents are spending at Indiana riverboats.
Despite the reluctance of Gov. Rod Blagojevich to expand gambling, the proposal to create four new casino licenses is gaining support in the Illinois legislature, said Cindy Davidsmeyer, spokeswoman for Senate President Emil Jones, D-Chicago.
Jones is leading the push for the plan, which would allow three of the new casinos to locate in the Chicago area.
The motivation is simple, said Davidsmeyer: Too much gambling money that Illinois could tax is flowing into Indiana through the five riverboats in Lake and LaPorte counties.