Lawmaker asks for investigation into Fair Meadows deal
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Monday, November 19, 2012
State Rep. Don Armes on Monday asked Gov. Mary Fallin and Attorney General Scott Pruitt to investigate the proceedings surrounding the closing of Fair Meadows Racetrack.
“The job-killing, industry-terminating deal does not pass the smell test,” Armes said in a press release. “What appears to be an obvious effort to circumvent terms of a compact needs to be exposed before an important sector of our economy leaves Oklahoma forever.”
The fair board voted unanimously — and without comment — earlier this month to end live racing at the track as part of a lucrative naming rights agreement with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
The agreement not only ends live racing at Fair Meadows but takes away millions of dollars in purse money that had been used to supplement purses at race tracks across the state.
The fair board — formerly known as the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority — includes the three Tulsa County commissioners and two appointees.
The county commissioners have said previously that they did not know that the decision to end live racing at Fair Meadows would take purse money from other Oklahoma racetracks.
Without a license to hold live races, Fair Meadows will not receive the $2 million a year it was getting as part of a 2005 agreement with the Creek, Osage and Cherokee tribes. The funds were paid in lieu of installing gaming machines at the racetrack.
Nor will the tribes be obligated to pay into a purse fund that went to Oklahoma’s thoroughbred and quarter horse associations to supplement purses statewide.
The purse fund averaged $6.8 million a year between 2007 and 2011.
Horsemen around the state say they were never consulted before the fair board made its decision and that the loss of the purse money will devastate an already struggling industry.
Tino Rieger, executive director of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, said previously that the commission was never notified of the deal.
Read more in Tuesday's Tulsa World.
Rep. Don Armes