This week, a group campaigning for expanded gambling in Arkansas has submitted a revised proposal to see the state constitution amended regarding gaming offerings. Driving Arkansas Forward has proposed that casinos be legalized in the state by allowing greyhound and horse race tracks to offer casino-style gaming. These tracks already provide gamblers with electronic games such as video poker.
The proposal was submitted to the state attorney general’s office on Monday. The group had provided a previous version of the proposal earlier which was rejected by the AG’s office. The attorney general will have to certify the wording of the measure before Driving Arkansas Forward can start the process of obtaining signatures to see the amendment placed on the ballot this November for a vote.
The proposal would see the state create four casinos, with the majority of gaming tax revenues going towards the needs of highways. Two of the casinos could be created within or next to the Southland greyhound track, located in West Memphis, and the Oaklawn horse track located in Hot Springs. The tracks already provide electronic skill games and both have been opposed in the past to see casino gambling expanded in the state.
According to Arkansas Online, the campaign counsel Nate Steel, has stated that this time, the proposal is different as the group has amended it based on the feedback from the attorney general and resubmitted with a ballot measure that is ‘fair and reasonable’. Steel stated further: “This allows the voters of Arkansas to expand the gaming industry in a smart and controlled manner by establishing a pathway forward for our state for years to come.”
Despite being opposed before, it appears that one track is happy with the changes. In the report, Southland Park Gaming & Racing praised the proposal, stating that the ‘proposed ballot initiative not only protects but would expand our gaming offerings’. Oaklawn has yet to comment, according to the media outlet.
Because the measure allows for four casinos total, two more would be created from scratch. One could be placed in Pope County and one in Jefferson County, based on the language of the proposal. Applicants for casino gaming would have to meet certain criteria to be considered. Local leaders will have to provide letters of support for the applicants as well as be able to prove their operational experience with an existing casino and show that they will be willing to invest a minimum of $100m for a new facility.