Arkansas Racing Commission Extends Application Period for Fourth and Final Casino License

Home » Arkansas Racing Commission Extends Application Period for Fourth and Final Casino License

The Arkansas Racing Commission has taken a significant step in the state’s gaming landscape by voting to extend the application period for the final casino license in Pope County.

The long journey towards the Pope County license:

During Monday’s meeting, commissioners announced the commencement of a 30-day application period, inviting submissions for the coveted Pope County casino license. Applicants are required to submit both digital and paper copies of their proposals by June 11, with the commission office opening on May 13 to accept applications. To fulfill regulatory requirements, the commission will convene on June 12 to formally close the application period.

This initiative marks the commission’s third endeavor in five years to allocate a permit in Pope County, following statewide approval for four casinos in Arkansas. Legal challenges have marred previous attempts, with licenses issued to Gulfside Casino Partnership and Cherokee Nation Business/Legends Resort & Casino nullified by the courts.

Casey Castleberry, representing Gulfside Casino Partnership, expressed appreciation for the commission’s clarity regarding the application timeline and pledged to present their proposal to the Pope County Quorum Court before the deadline.

Cherokee Nation Businesses CEO Chuck Garrett echoed sentiments of cooperation, acknowledging the collaborative efforts of the commission and the Arkansas attorney general’s office in ensuring a streamlined process. Garrett reaffirmed their commitment to presenting a compelling case for Legends Resort & Casino’s establishment in Russellville.

As Arkansas Advocate reports, he said: “Having obtained the exclusive support of Pope County Judge Ben Cross as required by Amendment 100 and a resolution of support from the Pope County Quorum Court, we anticipate being the sole qualified applicant. We look forward to standing before the Arkansas Racing Commission where we will demonstrate our more than 30 years of experience in gaming and hospitality, as well as our plans for Legends Resort & Casino to be built in Russellville.”

Waiting for the Arkansas Racing Commission:

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In 2018, voters endorsed Amendment 100 to the Arkansas Constitution, authorizing the operation of four casinos statewide. While the first two licenses were swiftly allocated to existing racetracks in West Memphis and Hot Springs, the process for the Pope County license has been characterized by complexity and contention.

Efforts in Pope County regarding a casino license have stirred local opposition, while various casino operators are keen on obtaining it. Local Voters in Charge, a committee formed in January, seeks to repeal the casino authorization and mandate a local vote for future casino sites. Attorney General Tim Griffin recently approved their ballot initiative, allowing signature collection until July 5. They aim to gather 90,704 signatures for a potential statewide vote on Nov. 5.

Local Voters in Charge, a grassroots initiative, seeks to repeal casino authorization in Pope County and advocate for future casino locations to undergo local option votes. Conversely, Investing in Arkansas, a newly formed committee, advocates for upholding Amendment 100 and highlights the economic benefits associated with continued casino investment.

As stakeholders on both sides of the casino debate mobilize, the fate of the Pope County casino license remains uncertain. With legal battles ongoing and public sentiment divided, the decision of the Arkansas Racing Commission holds immense significance, shaping the trajectory of gaming in the region for years to come.

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