11/09/2005 1:00AM

Oaklawn gaming expansion OK


Voters in Hot Springs, Ark., narrowly approved on Tuesday a proposal that will allow Oaklawn Park to install new electronic gaming machines. According to results released Tuesday night, 4,745 residents voted for the expanded gaming, and 4,656 voted against, a difference of 89 votes.

Results are to be be made official on Friday. There are still 10 provisional ballots left to count as well as one or two ballots that were sent to military members overseas, an election official said Wednesday. The remaining ballots are not enough to change Tuesday's tally.

The type of machines that can be installed are to be defined by the Arkansas Racing Commission. Oaklawn already operates Instant Racing machines, but those are parimutuel games.

Approximately 15 percent of off-the-top revenues from the new machines would go to purses, said Eric Jackson, general manager of Oaklawn, who said that economic studies have estimated the new machines could provide the track "somewhere around seven and a half million dollars a year, which in our case would be about a 50 percent increase in purses."

Oaklawn paid out $260,000 in purses a day last year, and the machines could take that number to $400,000, said Jackson.