Oklahoman Published: March 3, 1983

Sequoyah County voters have decided by a 2-to-1 margin to allow pari-mutuel betting on horse races, election officials said.

The vote during Tuesday's election was 5,146-2,561.

Approval of the issue is expected to make Blue Ribbon Downs, a racetrack already existing in this eastern Oklahoma area, the first pari-mutuel track in the state. A proposal to convert Blue Ribbon Downs into a pari-mutuel track will now go before the Oklahoma Racing Commission.

The racetrack has been near here for about 20 years, but local boosters of the pair-mutuel issue have said legalized betting is expected to increase its economic impact on the area. The track is the county's top employer.

Ralph Shebester, owner of Blue Ribbon Downs, has speculated that racing under the pari-mutuel system could take place in Sequoyah County within eight to 12 months after Tuesday's election.

Sequoyah became the second county in Oklahoma to approve pari-mutuel since the concept was approved on a statewide basis last fall. Love County voters endorsed pari-mutuel racing in September.

Plans for a track in that county are not as far advanced as they are in Sequoyah County. BIOG: NAME:

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