Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Racetrack Owner Loses Bet in Arkansas Supreme Court

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Racetrack Owner Loses Bet in Arkansas Supreme Court

Article excerpt

Charles Cella lost Friday afternoon at the Supreme Court of Arkansas. A constitutional amendment that would have legalized casino gambling at his Hot Springs horse-racing track was ruled "ineligible for consideration" in the Nov. 8 election.

Because election day is so close, the amendment will still be on the ballot, literally. But the court decided that the votes on the amendment won't matter because the description that appears on the ballot is too long and "consists of compounded euphemisms designed to cloak in semantic obscurity the actual nature of the proposed enterprise."

Cella, a St. Louisan with major real estate holdings here, owns Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. He and the owner of Southland Greyhound Park in West Memphis sponsored the amendment that would have allowed casino gambling at their racetracks.

The two tracks would have had a monopoly on casino gambling if Arkansas voters had approved the amendment.

But that wasn't so easy to understand from reading the description on the ballot. The 709-word-description "scrupulously avoided the use of commonly understood terms like `casinos' or `gambling houses,' " the court said.

The description would have permitted the two tracks to offer "additional racetrack wagering." That hardly spells out the real plan, the court reasoned, for slot machines, video poker, blackjack, craps, etc.

The suit against the amendment was filed by the Christian Civic Action Committee, which is the modern name for the Temperance League of Arkansas, founded in 1902. The group's director, Larry Page, called the ill-fated proposal "the stealth amendment."

Page is still hoping the Arkansas court will invalidate another gambling amendment. That one would permit one casino in the state, an operation in eastern Arkansas that would be run by a local developer and Harrah's, which is based in Memphis.

SIP IT SLOWLY, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE: A small quantity of an amazing beer will hit the shelves of selected grocers and specialty stores here this week. Samuel Adams Triple Bock arrives with a record-breaking alcohol content of more than 17 percent by volume.

The brew is made with three times as much barley as conventional beer, and it's aged three months in used whiskey barrels. The result: a taste closer to a good port than to beer.

"The idea was to create a beer that was unique, complex and so special that it would stretch the definition of beer," said Jim Koch, founder of the Boston Beer Co. He didn't need to add that "Triple Bock is not a product that will be consumed in quantity."

If the rich taste doesn't discourage chugging a few bottles, the price will. The product will sell for $5 to $6 per eight-ounce bottle, or more than $100 a case.

But this isn't just any old beer bottle. It's cobalt blue with 24-karat gold lettering. And there's no twist-off cap; it's sealed with a sherry cork. …

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