In Arkansas and the state gaming regulator has reportedly postponed until early next month a final decision on who is to be granted the right to build and operate an envisioned Pope County casino resort.
According to a report from local television broadcaster KATV, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma are the only two officially-recognized runners in the Pope County race. However, the Arkansas Racing Commission purportedly used a Thursday meeting to tell the federally-recognized tribes that it now does not intend to name the winner of the state’s fourth and final casino license until its next gathering on January 6.
The possibility of opening such a facility in Pope County was made possible after voters narrowly passed an enabling state constitutional amendment in November of 2018. This measure has already seen Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in the city of Hot Springs as well as West Memphis’ Southland Park Gaming and Racing transformed into fully-fledged casinos while Oklahoma’s Quapaw Nation is currently in the process of constructing the $350 million first phase of what is to eventually become its Saracen Resort Casino in rural Jefferson County.
But, KATV reported that the process to bring a casino to Pope County could face serious future disruption from an entity known as Gulfside Casino Partnership. This party had hoped to be granted the available license but filed a lawsuit against the Arkansas Racing Commission after its initial application was purportedly refused for failing to contain the required county judge endorsements.
An attorney working on behalf of Gulfside Casino Partnership, Casey Castleberry, reportedly told the broadcaster that his client was the only runner to have qualified during the first round of applications and that the ultimate winner of the remaining Arkansas casino license could well be decided in court.
Castleberry reportedly told KATV…
“We think it’s premature to award any license at this point. We think our application process is ongoing due to the appeal that we filed. Whatever decision they make on January 6 is still going to be subject to whatever the judge decides in the case we’ve got pending in circuit court.”