Gambling by the numbers

(October 1, 2003) — (Little Rock-AP) -- Opposite sides in the battle over legalized gambling disagree about how many people really travel out of state to satisfy their longing for slots or blackjack. Many Arkansas residents visit out-of-state casinos, but numbers are hard to pin down. Arkansas tourism officials don't keep figures on the numbers of residents going out of state to gamble. Barry Baldwin, general manager of Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis, feels the effects. He says when Mississippi legalized casinos in 1992, Southland was making 212 (m) million dollars on live racing. Last year, the figure was down to 48 (m) million dollars. Las Vegas-based Harrah's Entertainment operates casinos in Mississippi and says 432-thousand Arkansans stopped at an out-of-state casino at least once last year. But gambling opponents say those numbers are exaggerated.