Oaklawn admission to be free; no racing passes for legislators this year | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Oaklawn admission to be free; no racing passes for legislators this year

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 9:35 AM

click to enlarge FREE FOR ALL: No general admission charge this year at Oaklawn. Could ethics amendment have something to do with it?
  • FREE FOR ALL: No general admission charge this year at Oaklawn. Could ethics amendment have something to do with it?
Oaklawn Park, the thoroughbred track and casino in Hot Springs, has announced that it will not charge admission to horse races this year.

The track had charged $2 for general admission, but owner Charles Cella said waiving the fee was a way to celebrate completion of a casino expansion project. The racing begins Jan. 9.

Coincidentally this season will be the first racing season at which hordes of fans won't go to the gate with free racing passes distributed by the Arkansas legislature. In years past, the legislature exempted racing passes from rules that banned legislators from taking gifts worth more than $100. They got hundreds of racing passes, worth $2 each day they were used, and the clamor for them was so great that some legislators wouldn't take them.

Now, with the approval of Issue 3 and its ban on gifts of value of any size by lobbyists or people who employ lobbyists (Oaklawn does), the distribution of racing passes would appear to be illegal, unless the legislature by supermajority vote again exempted them from the brand-new amendment. That would be bad form. Cella has now given the legislators an out. Most of them will likely be happy to take it.

But to continue the thought on the loophole lobbyists and greedy legislators have already carved out of Issue 3:

Cella could declare every day of live racing — hell any day — a legislative event to which all members of the General Assembly are invited. He could then instruct all bars and restaurants that every day was legislative day and all meals and drinks and parimutuel tickets could be comped. What's the difference in that and the Mullenix firm declaring a steak and shrimp dinner by its lobbyist an official event and slopping the hogs for free? Same theory, different venue, greater frequency. Why not?

Michael Cook had been inquiring about this subject at Talk Business before Oaklawn issued its news release.

Here's another thing: What is UAF going to do about the special seats and free parking it has provided state legislators at cost below those charged to other garden variety Razorback football fans? Will that practice continue? I've asked a campus spokesman. Thirty-nine legislators got preferred seating last year, plus free parking. All but one got them without making the Razorback Foundation contributions required of others for better seats.

UPDATE: I put a couple of questions to Oaklawn about the change and got these answers from David Longinotti:

Any chance that the free admission has some connection to the new ethics amendment which ends gifts of anything of value to legislators?

Not entirely. We had been thinking about a way to say ‘thank you for your patience’ to our patrons for quite some time – they’ve put up with quite a bit during this construction phase. That’s when the idea began. The passage of amendment 3 may have nudged us, but we were already heading in that direction.

Or, to put it another way: Will Oaklawn give racing passes to legislators any more?

Not this year

Tags: , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Sunday and another open line

    Got anything for the open line?
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • But what about the Clintons? Last refuge of Trump, New York Times

    Trying to compare Donald Trump's reaction to the Russia investigation with Bill Clinton's dealings with Kenneth Starr should be a non-starter if the facts mattered. But these days — and to the New York Times — it ain't necessarily so.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • Football is king, Bentonville edition

    Good analysis in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of an unannounced Bentonville School Board vote last week to put $2 million into a football stadium for West High School despite board assurances in last May's tax election that no money would go to a football stadium.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Federal judge wants John Goodson to explain class action maneuvering

    A show-cause order filed Monday by federal Judge P.K. Holmes of Fort Smith indicates class action attorney John Goodson has some explaining to do about the move of a class action complaint against an insurance company from federal to state court with an instant pre-packaged settlement that has been criticized as a windfall for Goodson.
    • Dec 22, 2015
  • Donald Trump declares war on Hillary Clinton's marriage

    Donald Trump gave a remarkable interview to the New York Times yesterday in which he declared open season on the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton's past infidelity. Seems like a loser, but I've been wrong before.
    • Oct 1, 2016
  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016

Most Shared

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Recent Comments



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation