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Deal the cards

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An Oaklawn Park visitor noticed a sign at the Hot Springs track seeking blackjack dealers. Blackjack dealers? We inquired of the track’s general manager, Eric Jackson.

Turns out that Oaklawn, encouraged by the experience of Southland Park in West Memphis, is making plans to add several electronic blackjack tables to the electronic gambling now allowed at both tracks by a relatively new state law. Jackson said the games may be operational by next month.

There’s no difference between electronic and “real” blackjack, Jackson explained, except that state law allows only electronic play of games with an element of skill, not actual card dealing. Players see their cards on video screens as they sit around tables much like those in casinos. Some of the tables have some “human interaction,” however, that is similar to a dealer’s oversight of play.

Lobby envy

You’ve probably read that the state’s four-year colleges (save Arkansas State and Arkansas Tech) have formed the Arkansas Association of Public Universities to lobby the legislature, on top of the many lobbyists most of the schools already employ. Former Sen. Tim Wooldridge, not even a year out his legislative seat, was hired for the handsome sum of $150,000 — thanks, students and taxpayers — to lead the lobbying.

But what, really, is this all about? Here’s one suggestion from a valued Capitol source: It’s nothing but envy on the part of four-year schools over success two-year colleges have enjoyed in lobbying the legislature through their co-operative association. Can’t let the jucos get ahead.

Politicking

The Aug. 6 deadline nears for filing for Little Rock School Board seats and much attention focuses on whether board member Michael Daugherty will seek re-election. He’s expected to do so. Another question is whether those who’ve been unhappy with decisions made by a four-member board majority that includes Daugherty will find a challenger.

We heard last week that a couple of residents of Broadmoor had talked with Lisa Black, director of the nonprofit Little Rock Public Education Foundation, about the board seat, which represents that neighborhood, among others. Black insisted she was not recruiting candidates, but merely answering questions about the race. The foundation, formed to support efforts of the school district, has gotten enmeshed previously in politics by serving as a conduit for money for a controversial merit pay project. It has also held private meetings with school board members about district business and came to be viewed as an ally of Superintendent Roy Brooks, whose contract is to be bought out.

Blogging lawmaker

State Rep. Steve Harrelson of Texarkana, who’s become an active legislative blogger at steveharrelson.com/blog, has an expansion plan. He says he’s bought the domain name that he uses for his blog, Under the Dome, and hopes to expand the blog’s offerings with a couple more writers.

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