News Articles

10/22/97 Casinos in Okla. opposed by 109 state legislators

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–Casino gambling in Oklahoma is being publicly opposed by 109 state legislators and all members of the state’s congressional delegation, according to Forrest Claunch, himself a state legislator and chairman of Oklahomans Against Casinos.
Voters will decide Feb. 10 the fate of State Question 672, a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling in various parts of the state, including the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas.
“Two years ago, dozens of lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans, spoke out in opposition to casino gambling,” Claunch said. “This year, there is even more opposition. We’re extremely pleased to announce there is a strong statewide and bipartisan agreement that the proposed constitutional amendment should not be approved by voters on Feb. 10.”
The reasons those opposed to the issue vary, Claunch said, “but there is general agreement that this constitutional amendment is a terrible gamble. It simply is not good for Oklahoma.”
Claunch also noted the state’s top three statewide elected officials — Gov. Frank Keating, Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin and Attorney General Drew Edmondson — have taken a stance against State Question 672.
Members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, all of whom signed on in opposition to the proposed amendment, are Sens. Don Nickles, R-Ponca City, and James Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and Reps. J.C. Watts, R-Norman, Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, Ernest Istook, R-Warr Acres, Steve Largent, R-Tulsa, Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, and Wes Watkins, R-Stillwater.
The list of Oklahoma legislators includes Senate President Pro Tem Stratton Taylor and House Speaker Loyd Benson, according to Claunch.
All elected officials were given the opportunity to have their names included on Oklahomans Against Casinos’ list.
Despite the broad opposition to casino gambling, only about 200 people attended an anti-casino rally Oct. 7 at Southern Hills Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, organized in cooperation with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and Assemblies of God and United Methodist churches in the state.
“Attendance is not what we hoped,” said Anthony Jordon, BGCO executive director. “I am afraid our people are being lulled to sleep by thinking there is no enemy. I want them to understand how important it is to put this issue on the front burner now. We cannot wait until February to find out that millions of dollars have been dumped into it by gambling interests.”
Keating told the rally he hopes “that we will never see this issue again” after the Feb. 10 vote. He said casinos will not create jobs and will be of no value to Oklahomans.