In the southern American state of Arkansas and a group advocating for a November constitutional referendum that could remove Pope County as the site for an envisioned casino resort has reportedly been receiving large donations.
According to a Tuesday report from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper, the Fair Play for Arkansas 2022 organization banked some $1.2 million from the federally-recognized Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in June before going on to spend a little over $946,900. This cash was purportedly used to fund a campaign that has so far collected signatures of support from more than 100,000 registered voters.
Fair Play for Arkansas 2022 is reportedly advocating for a question to be placed on the November 8 general election ballot that could remove Pope County from the list of areas eligible to host a casino resort. The successful passage of this measure would purportedly scupper a plan from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to build and run the proposed Legends Resort and Casino on 135 acres of land in the small city of Russellville.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that the Fair Play for Arkansas 2022 organization has accepted donations totalling approximately $3.3 million since being established last year while so far having spent roughly $2.8 million to leave it with a late-June balance in the region of $525,600. By contrast and the pro-Pope County casino resort Arkansas Tourism Alliance group has purportedly raised a mere $1.3 million, which encompasses a recent $50,000 gift from the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma’s commercial Cherokee Nation Businesses enterprise, and expended something like $1.29 million.
The plan to bring a casino resort to Pope County was reportedly made possible in November of 2018 after voters narrowly passed an enabling statewide constitutional amendment to legalize up to four such venues. This purportedly resulted in Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in the city of Hot Springs as well as West Memphis’ Southland Park Gaming and Racing being transformed into fully-fledged casinos while the Quapaw Nation of Oklahoma later officially premiered the $350 million first phase of its Saracen Resort Casino in rural Jefferson County.
However, the Pope County plan reportedly suffered through numerous licensing difficulties before the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma officially bested a commercial entity known as Gulfside Casino Partnership in November for the right to bring a Las Vegas-style facility to central Arkansas. This ambitious project is still the subject of numerous legal challenges although the federally-recognized operator purportedly last week received the required planning permission from the Russellville Planning Commission.
The third-largest tribal group in the United States, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma reportedly entered the race for the Pope County casino resort license in November of 2019 before being pipped by Gulfside Casino Partnership some 15 months later. This 200,000-strong tribe is purportedly responsible for seven casinos in the neighboring state of Oklahoma including the 130-room Choctaw Casino Resort Pocola, which would sit only about 80 miles from the envisioned Legends Resort and Casino.