A group supporting a proposed amendment to Arkansas’s constitution to legalize casinos in three counties can now begin to gather signatures to include the measure on the November ballot.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge approved the wording of the proposed measure that if successful, will allow casinos in Washington, Boone, and Miller counties, according to the Associated Press. Attorney General Rutledge’s certification is required before supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment can begin the process of gathering the 84,859 signatures needed to include the measure on November’s ballot. Petitions need to be submitted by July 8.
Included in the proposal is the creation of a governor-appointed five-member state Gaming Commission, which would regulate the casinos and require them to pay the State of Arkansas an 18 percent tax on all gambling proceeds. It also calls for the casinos to be run by three limited liability companies. Interests from the construction, economic, and financial sectors are backing the efforts of a group named Arkansas Wins in 2016 to get the amendment passed. The group has hired local PR firm, Robert Coon with Impact Management, to help.
On May 12, AG Rutledge rejected a ballot proposal submitted by Cal McCastlain, an attorney with the Little Rock-based law firm of Dover Dixon Horne, stating that it contained ambiguous language and failed to provide a complete summarization of the proposed amendment within its title.
Casino gambling is strictly prohibited in Arkansas; however, the law does allow facilities that have parimutuel wagering on dog and horse races, currently only Southland Park Gaming & Racing in West Memphis and Oaklawn Park Racing & Gaming in Hot Springs, to also offer electronic games of skill, such as video poker and slot machines.