03/16/2005 1:00AM

Ark. to vote on video gambling


The Arkansas House passed a bill Tuesday that could allow Oaklawn Park to add more electronic gambling machines to its grandstand.

The legislation, which has already been passed by the Senate, would allow counties to hold referenda on whether to allow racetracks to add electronic gambling machines. Arkansas has two racetracks, Oaklawn Park in Garland County and Southland Greyhound Park in Crittenden County. The tracks would be required to pay the costs of offering the votes.

Gov. Mike Huckabee, an opponent of gambling, said Wednesday in a letter to legislators that he would allow the bill to become law without his signature. But he also vowed to urge voters to defeat the measures when the referenda are placed on the ballot.

The legislation would allow for electronic gambling machines that are not "purely based on luck," which would likely rule out most types of Las Vegas-style slot machines. Oaklawn Park already operates 250 electronic gambling machines that are based in part on the results of thousands of past parimutuel races. The machines, which are also known as Instant Racing machines, took in about $75 million in wagers last year.