Arkansas is one of the states that provided its residents with a chance to cast their vote on the potential gambling expansion taking over the field. Voters gave their nod to the widely-discussed Issue 4 which aims to introduce new gaming offerings to existing facilities to the liking of Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis.
In addition to that, Pope and Jefferson Counties will receive the right to obtain one casino license each, opening the door for new development. State voters seem to support the new measure which will provide two new areas with gambling offerings, as well as diversify the existing ones at two racing tracks.
According to the information issued shortly after the end of the voting day, some 54 percent of the current residents registered to vote in Arkansas have checked the Yes box next to Issue 4 on the mid-term elections this Tuesday. In the meantime, 46 percent claimed their opposition to the proposed question, claiming that the state does not need casino-style offerings.
Racetracks Recevei the Right to Offer More
After the passing of this Issue, the state will provide four casino licenses for operation. The brand new venues which are yet to be built will be located in a two-mile circle of Pine Bluffs, Jefferson County, as well as within two miles of Russellville, Pope County. The horse racing track in Hot Springs and the dog racing track in West Memphis will see casino-style offerings added to their racing ones.
The appropriate definition of casino gaming will be featured in the new regulation’s language, eliminating any potential situations of conflict. Individuals under the age of 21 will not be allowed in either of the casino venues, aligning with existing regulations in neighboring states. The field will be overseen by the Arkansas Racing Commission, providing its guidance and serving as a regulator for all operation.
Now that the field has received an approval to continue its further development, the regulator will have to work on the appropriate tax rates mandatory the field. Furthermore, the venues will have the right to serve their casino patrons alcohol regardless of the current regulations of the city or county. This amendment was proposed by the voters themselves, generating as many as 137,000 signatures in support of the new gambling options.
AP calls Issue 4: Casinos: "Arkansas voters have approved a measure legalizing casinos in four counties, including at a horse track and dog track that already offer video poker and other electronic gambling."
— Erika Ferrando THV11 (@ErikaFerrandoTV) November 7, 2018
Problem Gambling Also Taken into Account
It could be recalled that efforts towards the approval of new casino operation within the borders of Arkansas date back to February this year, but previous years have also witnessed failed attempts at passing. This year Driving Arkansas Forward submitted another proposal for a constitutional amendment to the office of the local attorney general, despite the latter has already turned down a previous version of the proposal.
We are joining @FamilyCouncil in opposition to Issue 4 requiring the licensing of casinos in Arkansas. Issue 4 poses a direct threat to the social health and stability that characterize Arkansas. We urge everyone to exercise their right to vote and to vote NO on Issue 4. #arpx
— Arkansas For Christ (@ARforchrist) November 5, 2018
While the group was seeking the support of voters, more and more opponents of the idea pointed out that gambling addiction is a serious issue which does not receive the needed attention in Arkansas. Those reporting problem gambling tendencies, according to the National Council on Gambling Prevention’s estimates, reach about 2% of citizens. In the past, there has been a hotline providing support for individuals suffering the consequences of compulsive gambling, but it has been non-operational ever since 2015.
Along with the constitutional amendment, a minimum of $200,000 will be poured in various services striving to provide players with help in times of need when their gambling habits appear to be getting out of hand. Upcoming months will see more development and the casino operators making a move towards their new casino construction.