One group in Arkansas has been dedicating its efforts to achieving a gambling expansion which, according to them, has the potential to bring benefits to the local economy and the community in general. There are two proposed casino venues, in addition to the expansion of the two already operating ones which could be voted this November, while in the meantime Pope County has expressed its strong discontent with hosting one of the proposed new venues.
It could be recalled that the month of February welcomed an official proposal made by Driving Arkansas Forward which aimed to bring a constitutional amendment. It sought the allowing of expanded gambling options at horse and greyhound tracks and it needed the approval of the state attorney general. The group was given permission to start gathering signatures so that it could place the question on the November ballot.
Back in June 2017, another casino ballot proposal was rejected by Arkansas attorney general Leslie Rutledge, who at the time called the suggested bill too complex. According to the attorney general, the wording of the proposal was flawed and confusing, which could result in misleading voters. They made an attempt to introduce legal casino gambling to the state which currently has two casino venues with a very restricted gambling potential.
Oaklawn Jockey Club is a racino which features low-stakes video poker terminals, as well as Instant Racing, but locals do not seem to be very impressed by the gaming potential it has on offer. It is located in Hot Springs which was once the first gambling Mecca in the United States. The other casino venue within the borders of the state is the Southland Greyhound Park which has greyhound racing on offer, as well as several slot machines, video poker, and Instant Racing terminals.
Could Gambling Expansion Take Place across the State?
According to the previously stated palms regarding the state development of its gambling industry, there could be as many as four new venues introduced. This November could bring the official voting which would decide whether or not these new venues will see the light of day. Up to this point, the group has managed to generate a considerable number of signatures in support of the proposed voting which could see new casino venues located in the Pope and Jefferson counties, in addition to expanding the ones currently in operation.
As for the tax revenue that would be collected from them to be redirected to cover highway needs. The ballot measure would require applicants to prove they are experienced enough in providing casino services and demonstrate their interest to invest no less than $100 million in such facility. Of course, local officials would have to provide their approval for such venues.
The opposition in Pope County succeeded in making a difference and this Thursday witnessed the unanimous approval of the state’s governing body of a new amendment. It is going to give the opportunity to every member of the community to cast their vote in relation to the proposed gambling venue. Their concerns are related to the potential problem gambling threat which comes with a gambling venue, as well as crime rates surge in the long run as a result of that.
However, what should be taken into account is the fact that at the moment the state does nothing to treat gambling addiction across the state or to provide people in need of support with any help. Arkansas is one of the seven states in the US which does not devote funding to this problematic subject and the potential gambling expansion could pose a threat to the area and the well-being of people interests in gambling.
Years ago, there actually existed a hotline for gambling addicts in the state, but it was closed in 2015 after local legislature made a decision to redirect funds accumulated from the Arkansas Scholarship Lottery to other initiatives rather than problem gambling services.