Arkansas Voters Get to Decide Face of Casino Legalization

by Jim Hall

ArkansasAfter a successful petition drive, the state of Arkansas will be allowing voters to decide if casinos will be legalized across three border counties.

In many states across the US, legislation cannot be decided upon unless the voters get a say. In Arkansas, voters will now get to decide if casinos will be legalized in three counties of the state. A successful petition drive has now seen the measure placed on the November ballot.

Arkansas Wins

The group Arkansas Wins has been working hard on a signature campaign to see voters have the opportunity to decide if legislation should be passed to provide casinos in three counties of the state. Yesterday, the office of Secretary of State Mark Martin announced that the signatures provided by Arkansas Wins, 100,977 of them were valid. The group only needed 84,859 to see the measure placed on the ballot for a vote.

What Does the Proposal Include?

The measure, if passed, would allow casinos to be created in three counties of the state; Washington, Miller and Boone. If the amendment is approved by voters, the Cherokee Nation Entertainment group already has plans to build a casino in Washington County, according to Arkansas Wins.

With the passing of the proposal, a commission consisting of five members would be created by the governor of the state. This group would regulate the casinos, with each venue having to pay the state 18% in taxes on net gaming.

Those Opposed

Of course, like with any gambling legislation, there are those who are opposed. The Family Council Action Committee has shown opposition to casino gambling in the state with Executive Director of the group, Jerry Cox, releasing a statement in opposition to the amendment.

In his statement, Cox commented that the amendment allows a group of businessmen from Missouri to write themselves and their gambling operation into the constitution of Arkansas. The amendment would create a monopoly that would allow out-of-state businessmen to build casinos in counties of the state. Cox believes that the way the amendment is written will make it to where the legislators of Arkansas will not be able to regulate the gaming activity.

Protect Arkansas’ Values is another group in opposition to the measure. This group also released a statement showing their opposition stating the passing of the bill would be a bad deal for the state. Protect Arkansas’ Values is concerned that there will be no accountability in the amendment and no protections will be in place for the citizens of the state. Local governments will not be able to reject the placement of such venues and there will be no regulatory restrictions for the gaming casinos.

Both groups want the state citizens to agree that the amendment will do damage to the state. So far, there has not been a study or poll released that shows if residents want to see gaming options in their state or not. If most people believe like the opposing groups do, then the measure has no chance of moving forward. However, if individuals want the casinos to come to the state, then the measure should move forward with no problem.

The measure will be placed on the ballot this November, so now those who live in the state will just have to wait and see what happens. No doubt, there will be campaigns created for and against the casinos in the weeks leading up to the vote to try and persuade voters to one side or another. It will be interesting to see which side wins and if the state will be able to add the casinos or if the gaming efforts will be stopped in their tracks.