Oklahoma casinos are popular destination for Texans

Posted Friday, Apr. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Every month, Carolee Neuman hops aboard a chartered bus with friends for a daylong trip to an Oklahoma casino.

On Thursday, the Mansfield resident was still raving about her trip two weeks ago to the WinStar World Casino in Thackerville, Okla.

"We go up and they give us a free breakfast with barbecue, eggs, bacon, cinnamon rolls -- you name it," Neuman said. "Then they give us free $10 gaming cards. I'm not a big-time gambler. I just play the slots, so that goes a long way."

She isn't alone.

Dozens of buses make regularly scheduled trips from North Texas and beyond each week, often carrying senior citizens and retirees.

An untold number of independent charters also make the trek across the Red River.

The latter was the case with the Cardinal Coach Line bus that crashed Thursday morning in Irving on its way to the Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Okla.

The bus trip -- tickets were $10 each -- was organized by a woman who went by "Casino Sue," according to a flier found at the crash site.

Sue Taylor of Hurst was one of two people killed, according to the Dallas County medical examiner's office. The other was Paula Hahn, 69, of Fort Worth.

Casino representatives said Thursday that the bus wasn't an official Choctaw charter.

"Our deepest condolences go out to the victims of the crash and their families during this difficult time," said Janie Dillard, executive director of gaming at Choctaw Casinos.

Choctaw's Durant casino, north of Denison, regularly serves six cities with buses. WinStar, north of Gainesville, provides service to 62 Texas cities, including 12 in Tarrant County, according to the WinStar website.

A Choctaw spokeswoman said the number of independently chartered buses that make the trip to Durant varies from week to week.

The Oklahoma casinos rely heavily on Texans for their income, according to a study by TXP, an Austin-based economic policy firm.

The study, cited by proponents of legalizing casinos in Texas, found that Texans accounted for 43 percent of "total estimated gaming activity" -- more than $1.6 billion -- in Oklahoma in 2012.

There was no independent information on how many of those Texans rode buses there.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna

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