After struggling when casinos presented competition, Remington Park found new financial footing with its own casino in 2005. However, officials are leery of planned casino opening in the Adventure District.
State Question 712 in 2004 authorized Remington to add a casino in a bid to save the track. The casino opened, with immediate impact. Remington Park's Racing Casino's general manager Scott Wells said purses at the time hovered around $5,500. In 2008, it's closer to $20,000.
For all of Remington's success, Wells said another threat looms: The Miami, Okla.-based Shawnee Tribe is vying to build a casino west of Interstate 35 between Britton Road and Wilshire Boulevard. The Shawnee Destination Entertainment Resort will feature a casino, hotel, restaurants and movie theater. Because the tribe is attempting to put the land into federal trust for development, Wells said it would not have to pay the same tax rate as Remington or follow the same gaming restrictions.
"If the Shawnee Tribe puts a casino there, OKC will be paying the social and infrastructure costs while a few outsiders make tons of money, pay little or no taxes, and reduce revenues to the city and county which are currently flowing from existing businesses," Wells said. "The worst impact would be statewide in loss of jobs and investment in one of Oklahoma's most important agricultural industries."
Greg Pitcher, chairman of Shawnee Development LLC, said in an e-mail that many tribal businesses will pay more in local government payments than large corporations pay in taxes. The massive payroll, estimated at $58 million, will also help close that gap. Pitcher said the competition would be good for Remington.
"We respect Remington Park's important role " as a horse-racing showcase, tourism driver, taxpayer and corporate citizen," Pitcher said. "We believe our project can help make Remington Park stronger. Studies show that patrons of resorts like ours (we anticipate 2.4 million guests a year) also visit nearby attractions and businesses, creating a 'spill-over effect' that brings new customers for everyone." " Charles Martin