Arkansas Supreme Court Annuls Circuit Judge’s Previous Ruling against Cherokee Nation Businesses’ Casino License Application

The Arkansas Supreme Court has annulled the ruling of a Pulaski County circuit judge that the Legends Resort and Casino LLC run by the Cherokee Nation Businesses is not qualified for a Pope County casino license due to lack of experience in conducting casino gambling as provisions of the state Constitution require. Furthermore, the state’s Supreme Court also annulled circuit judge Tim Fox’s finding that Cherokee Nation Businesses is not considered a casino applicant as defined by the Arkansas Constitution.

Two of the judges – Justice Josephine Hart and Chief Justice Dan Kemp – not participated at the time, but the state’s high court still issued a ruling in response to the Indian Tribe’s attorneys. The legal representative of the Cherokee Nation Businesses, Dustin McDaniel, shared that the Native American nation appreciated the decision of the Supreme Court to take an unusual step and right the mistake that was made in analyzing the corporate structure of the CNB. He further noted that there are still many steps to be made in the process, but this ruling on the writ filed by the tribe a few weeks ago was an important one.

As CasinoGamesPro has already reported, a casino license in Pope County is being sought by both the Legends Resort and Casino and Gulfside Casino Partnership. The casino permit is set to be issued by the state’s gambling regulatory body – the Arkansas Racing Commission (ARC).

Gulfside’s Legal Counsel Claims They Were the Only Qualified Applicants for Pope County Casino License

The legal counsel for Gulfside Casino Partnership, Lucas Rowan, commented that the ruling of Judge Fox was correct and neither Legends Resort and Casino, nor Cherokee Nation Businesses were eligible to apply for the casino license under Amendment 100, and the ruling of the Arkansas Supreme Court did not change that. Mr. Rowan said that Gulfside remains the only qualified applicant and the winner of the casino operating license as the Arkansas Racing Commission decided.

The state’s high court reviewed the ruling issued by judge Fox on July 2nd, under which Legends Resort and Casino, a gambling operator with limited liability established by Cherokee Nation Businesses, does not qualify as a Pope County casino license applicant. The gambling operator made an attempt to interfere in the lawsuit filed by Gulfside against the state’s gambling watchdog, but the request was overruled by judge Fox.

At the time, the Gulfside’s motion for contempt alleging that the gambling regulatory body of the state failed to follow its rules to issue the company an operating license for the Pope County casino within 30 days of a previous Fox’s ruling, was also denied by the judge. In his previous ruling from 2019, judge Fox confirmed the endorsement letters for Gulfside by ex-local officials who no longer occupied the same positions at the time when the company applied for the controversial casino license a year ago.

Under the provisions of constitutional Amendment 100, which was given the green light by Arkansas voters at a ballot held in November 2018, applicants are required to have the endorsements.

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