West Memphis track says electronic games will double purses

Published 6:23 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The president of Southland Park on Tuesday told state regulators that he expects the addition of electronic gaming to more than double the weekly purses offered by the West Memphis dog track.

The Arkansas Racing Commission had its first look Tuesday at Southland’s proposal to add electronic games of skill, including video poker and video black jack, starting Nov. 1. Southland President Barry Baldwin told commissioners that the park hoped to have a two-day “soft opening” to preview the electronic games to media and selected guests in late October.

“This will give us an idea of how things will go on a normal day,” Baldwin said. “We’ll do business like we would during a regular day.”

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The commission is expected to review Southland’s plan in September and the commission must also approve the dog track’s security measures and the individual games. The track is across the Mississippi River from Memphis, Tenn. — roughly an hour’s drive north of the Tunica, Miss., casinos.

Eric Jackson, general manager of Oaklawn Park, said the horse track would submit its application for electronic games within the next two months. Jackson said he expected Oaklawn would start with about 120 electronic games of skill and said the games would be similar to those proposed by Southland.