Wembley to spend $10M in campaign for slots

Oct 14, 2003 5:49 AM

The future of an English gaming company’s involvement in the U.S. may be determined by a vote in Colorado on Nov. 4. At that time, Colorado voters will be asked whether they favor slot machines at the four dog tracks operated by Wembley PLC.

This is the same company that owns Lincoln Greyhound Park in Rhode Island. The manager of that track, Dan Bucci, and his boss in England, Nigel Potter, face a 22-count indictment charging that they conspired to bribe the law firm of an influential Rhode Island lawmaker in order to gain his support for a proposal that would add 1,300 video lottery machines at the dog track.

Ironically, the state legislature approved the additional machines after the individual whose law firm was to receive some $6 million left his post in the Rhode Island General Assembly.

As part of the deal in receiving permission for the additional machines, Lincoln was supposed to implement a $50 million expansion plan. Nothing has happened as yet and, in fact, Gov. Don Carcieri, said he would not negotiate track improvements as long as the facility is owned by Wembley.

Carcieri met with Wembley Chairman Claes Hultman last week and told him there would be no negotiations as long as the company faces bribery charges. Hultman said the track was not for sale.

Meanwhile, Wembley is changing its focus toward the referendum that, they said, would keep their Colorado dog tracks in business. It is so important, they said, that they have put together a $10 million advertising campaign to influence the Nov. 4 vote.

Amendment 33 would permit Wembley to install some 500 video lottery machines at each of their tracks with 61% of the net revenue to be returned to the state in taxes.

So far, polls have not indicated the impact the bribery charges in Rhode Island will have on the Colorado vote.