Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Will Rogers Downs, Tribal Had Talks about 'Alliance'

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Will Rogers Downs, Tribal Had Talks about 'Alliance'

Article excerpt

CLAREMORE (AP) - Officials at Will Rogers Downs have had discussions with representatives of Indian tribes concerning an alliance that could allow pari-mutuel horse races at the track outside state jurisdiction, track officials say.

``We're just trying to exercise all our options,'' said track president Bill Poulos. ``We don't want to be shut down.''

Track officials will go before the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission next week to press their request for 70 pari-mutuel racing days in 1988. Will Rogers Downs opened a $9 million facility east of Claremore with a 14-day county fair racing meet that ended Sunday.

Poulos said he has had discussions with representatives of at least three tribes. He said there have been no formal negotiations.

Federal courts have held that activities on tribal land cannot be regulated by the states. The rulings have generally held that sovereign tribes may engage in activities on their land that are not prohibited by state law.

Poulos would not identify the tribes, but said representatives had come from as far away as Minnesota and Washington, D.C. He said the tribes initiated the discussions.

Poulos notified staff members of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission of the discussions on Monday after they inquired about rumors.

The Cherokee Nation, within whose traditional boundaries the track is located, ``is not involved in any negotiations for the operation of Will Rogers Downs,'' Chief Wilma Mankiller said in a statement read by a spokesman Wednesday.

William E. Foster, commissioner of gaming for the Creek Nation, said the Creeks also have had no contact with Will Rogers Downs officials.

The 10th U. …

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