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Smart Talk March 23

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Ka-ching! Preparing for new gambling
The state Racing Commission is reviewing proposed rules to regulate new forms of machine gambling at the Oaklawn and Southland race tracks. A public hearing on the rules, which don’t yet specify the types of games that will be played, could be held in the next couple of months.

State officials predict that the rules could be adopted and the way cleared for additional machine gambling at the tracks as soon as the end of summer or early fall. They predict that the new gambling will begin even if lawsuits are still pending by opponents of the gambling. The suits challenge the local option election procedures that ratified the legislative-approved gambling, most likely to be video poker.

As it stands, the gambling action won’t be Las Vegas- or Atlantic City-style in at least one respect. According to the rules draft, gambling on the machines will be allowed from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily, except Easter and Christmas. Gambling Laboratories International, a consultant that drew up the draft rules, notes, however, that “restriction on gaming hours will have a limiting effect on gaming revenues. … 24-hour gaming will maximize revenue providing the greatest benefit to the licensee.” So there’s a chance before rules are finalized that the tracks might seek 24-hour play. They tend to get what they want in Arkansas.

The new machines will be considered games of skill, but skill has its limits. They’ll be set to pay off at a pre-determined rate, with a minimum 83 percent return. State officials predict the return will be in the 90 percent range, as it is at many casinos. The rate will be monitored by the Racing Commission.



King of Bucks, meet Prince of Peace
The Arkansas Baptist News reports that the Baptist Men’s Ministry of Second Baptist Church of Conway held its fifth and most successful “Beast Feast” Jan. 27, “drawing 2,100 men and boys and resulting in 272 decisions to follow Christ.”

ABN explains that the Beast Feast is an annual sportsmen’s banquet open to men and boys of all ages. “This year’s keynote speaker was John Morgan, pastor of Sagemont Baptist Church of Houston, Texas, and an avid sportsman and big game hunter who has bagged over 75 species of game.

“This year’s event also included the Bass Pro Shops ‘King of Bucks’ Exhibit of over 200 of the largest whitetail bucks ever mounted.”



Keeping kosher
Though a short-lived effort at one Little Rock restaurant didn’t work out, you can now eat kosher again in Little Rock — at least on special occasions. The Peabody Hotel has established a kosher section in its kitchen facilities and will provide food for catered events that is prepared according to Jewish law. The kitchen is under the supervision of Rabbi Martin J. Applebaum of the Orthodox Congregation Agudath Achim, who came to Little Rock from Florida in September.

Rabbi Applebaum notes that the addition of the kosher service at the Peabody does not extend to regular meal service in the hotel restaurants, which are served by separate parts of the hotel kitchens. But he said kosher meals can be provided by room service to hotel guests.

The Peabody says it is the first, and only, hotel in Arkansas to provide kosher food service.








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