Saturday June 28,2014 : ONLINE HORSERACE BETTING UNDER SEIGE IN ARKANSAS
Lawmaker proposes repeal of 2013 law allowing internet bets at Oaklawn.
Bans on monitor games and online betting on horse races are a possibility in Arkansas, where state politicians are arguing over the suitability of both, and the state lottery, along with the Oaklawn Park thoroughbred racetrack in Hot Springs, Arkansas are lobbying to keep these permissions alive.
Gov. Mike Beebe on Friday added a proposal to ban the state lottery from adding monitor games to his call for a special legislative session.
Monitor games are draw games in which drawings are held every few minutes and results are displayed on monitor screens at lottery retailers, an innovation that state lottery director Bishop Woosley is trying to implement.
The lottery plans to introduce its first monitor game in September in an effort to boost sagging revenue.
Backing the governor's call to stop the lottery from offering monitor games is Republican state Sen. Jimmy Hickey, who has authored a proposal to halt the monitor game initiative on grounds that it will expand gambling.
The governor has been upfront in saying that he would approve a ban on monitor games if it reaches his desk.
Another state lawmaker, Democratic Party Representative Mark Perry, wants to ban the online wagering currently permitted on horse racing at Oakleaf, a bid that Oakleaf is lobbying vigorously against.
Although he supports the lottery's monitor games initiative, Perry wants to repeal the 2013 law allowing the online wagering at Oaklawn Park and greyhound races held at Southland Park in West Memphis, and is using the current furore around monitor games to push his agenda
Perry co-chairs a legislative committee that oversees the state Lottery Commission, and said Friday that computer betting on races “…is a type of monitor game, so if we’re going to do one we need to do all of them.”
He believes that the move to ban monitor games is a ploy to guard Oakleaf against competition, but says that the audience for these wagering products is not the same.
Sen. Hickey, who voted for online betting on races, claims the two issues are “totally separate,” and that the online horse race betting law passed because Arkansans were already betting on races through out-of-state online networks, and lawmakers wanted the profits from that activity to stay in Arkansas.
Lottery director Woosely has his work cut out trying to educate lawmakers on the differences between online gambling and monitor game technology.
“The monitor is a TV that hangs on the wall that displays the drawings,” he explained to reporters Friday. “It’ll be done in the same way that a Powerball drawing or a Mega Millions drawing gets done, except that the drawings occur more frequently.
"You’ll buy the ticket just like you do a Powerball ticket: You’ll walk up to the counter and hand your money to the clerk.”
The special session is scheduled to begin Monday, and is expected to last just three days.