In the southern American state of Arkansas and a group that is lobbying against the move to bring a commercial casino to Pope County has reportedly been dealt a setback associated with its petition drive.
According to a Wednesday report from local television broadcaster KATV, Fair Play for Arkansas had reportedly collected and turned in some 100,000 signatures of support for its plan to have a referendum question regarding the casino proposal placed on the November 8 general election ballot. This controversial enterprise, which has received financial support from the casino-operating Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, is purportedly looking to scupper a plan that is to see the federally-recognized Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma build and run the proposed Legends Resort and Casino on 135 acres of land in the small city of Russellville.
The Little Rock-headquartered broadcaster reported that Fair Play for Arkansas had been required to amass 89,151 signatures in support of its referendum plan but was left disappointed last week when Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston ruled that only 62,859 of these allies could be accurately verified. The Republican legislator purportedly went on to decree that the anti-casino group was also not eligible to apply for a ‘cure period’, which would have given it more time to collect support, as it had not met the minimum 75% threshold of 66,864 names.
Reportedly read the ruling from Thurston…
“Therefore, the petition submitted on behalf of Fair Play for Arkansas is deemed insufficient and does not qualify for correction or amendment.”
KATV reported that this rejection came only about a week after Fair Play for Arkansas had suffered the setback of having its 120-word ballot title rejected by the Arkansas Board of Election Commissioners. This lengthy description was purportedly tossed out over concerns that it was misleading and could ultimately face the real prospect of being overturned in court.
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.
For its part and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma is reportedly still hoping to debut its envisioned Legends Resort and Casino by the end of 2024 complete with a hotel, a large gaming floor and a conference center in addition to a concert hall, an outdoor water park and a recreational vehicle element. The tribe purportedly earlier disclosed that the coming $225 million development, which is to sit only around 75 miles northwest of Little Rock, will aid local economic development schemes by attracting visitors and their cash from as far afield as Texas, Louisiana and Missouri.