Voters in Arkansas will have the chance to cast their ballot on whether to allow casinos in three counties after a group calling itself Arkansas Wins In 2016 managed to collect over 100,000 signatures asking for the November plebiscite.
Arkansas Wins In 2016 is being backed by Cherokee Nation Entertainment, which already owns and operates nine casinos in neighboring Oklahoma, and was required to collect a minimum of 84,859 signatures in order to have the issue of whether to change the state’s constitution to allow casinos put before the voters.
The office of Mark Martin, Secretary Of State for Arkansas, recently verified that the pro-casino group had amassed 100,977 signatures calling for the November 8 vote that, if passed, would see gambling facilities permitted in Miller County near the Texas border and Boone County in the Ozark Mountains along with Washington County in the northwest of the state. In return, the amendment would set an 18% state tax on casino revenues after payouts along with 1.5% and 0.5% duties for the cities and counties respectively in which the venues operate.
“We’re grateful to the 100,977 registered Arkansas voters that joined with our campaign to get this pro-growth [and] pro-jobs issue on the ballot this November,” said Robert Coon, spokesperson for Arkansas Wins In 2016. “This amendment will create thousands of good paying jobs, generate tens of millions of dollars in new tax revenues, increase tourism and stimulate our state and local economies.”
Arkansas Wins In 2016 previously announced that it had agreed a deal with Cherokee Nation Entertainment that would see the operator construct and run a new state-of-the-art casino, hotel and entertainment complex in Washington County should voters approve the constitutional amendment in November. It additionally explained that the casino arm of the Cherokee Nation Of Oklahoma currently employs more than 4,000 people and last year paid $28.4 million in gaming fees to the state of Oklahoma.
“In addition to having a state-wide impact, Washington County, Miller County and Boone County in particular stand to benefit tremendously from passage of this amendment as it will bring jobs, tax revenues and tourism back from bordering states and provide those communities with new gaming, hotel, entertainment and restaurant options,” said Coon. “We’re excited that Arkansans will have the opportunity to vote on this important amendment this November.”
However, a group calling itself Protect Arkansas’ Values: Stop Casinos Now has emerged to oppose the constitutional amendment and recently started its fight by alleging that the legalization of casinos would harm the state.
“We are opposing this amendment because it is a bad deal for Arkansas,” said Chuck Lange, Chairman for Protect Arkansas’ Values: Stop Casinos Now. “No state has ever allowed something this outrageous. We are concerned that there is no accountability in this amendment and no protections for the people of Arkansas. There are no mechanisms for local governments to object to the placement of casinos in their community. There are no real regulatory restrictions for these casinos, which would allow them to subvert local law and do whatever they please. We believe that Arkansans should fully understand what this amendment will do to damage our state and we will be working to educate voters on these problems over the next couple months.”