05/21/2004 12:00AM

Oklahoma slots go to ballot


Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry signed a bill on Wednesday that calls for a statewide referendum on whether racetracks should be allowed to operate slot machine-like games.

The referendum, which will take place on Nov. 2, asks voters to approve games at racetracks that are already legal in the state's 80 tribal casinos. If passed, Remington Park in Oklahoma City would be allowed to operate up to 750 of the machines. Supporters say the plan would generate $71 million for education annually in the state.

Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill authorizing the games at racetracks. The new legislation repealed that bill in favor of the public referendum in order to satisfy some opponents of the legislation.

"We don't mind taking it to the people," said Joe Lucas, the president of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association, on Friday. "Let's lay them out on the table."

Gov. Henry lobbied hard to expand gambling at the state's racetracks, which have struggled for years. Magna Entertainment Corp. owns Remington Park.