Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oklahoma Racino to Close; Lack of Business

Blue Ribbon Downs is located just outside of Sallisaw.;

SALLISAW, OK -- The Choctaw Nation plans on closing Blue Ribbon Downs at Sallisaw at the end of the current season on November 28th.

In a news release Thursday morning, the Choctaw Nation said despite its best efforts to upgrade the horse racing track, it's decided to close the facility.

"The sport of horse racing is struggling nationwide," said Judy Allen, tribal spokeswoman. "We did our best and invested a lot of money to improve the local racing experience, but there just was not enough patron support to continue to operate the track."

The Choctaw Nation says all full-time and part-time track and adjacent racino employees who stay through the closing of the facility will receive a generous package that will include their full salary and health benefits through December.

Each of those employees will also receive a Christmas bonus.

Seasonal workers who work through the last racing day will receive their normal Christmas bonus in appreciation of their service.

Blue Ribbon Downs, the state's first pari-mutuel horse racing track, had twice been in bankruptcy in 1997 and 2002.

The Choctaw Nation purchased the facility in November 2003, one day before the track was to be sold at a sheriff's auction.