Legal Actions Aim to Hit Misleading Casino Expansion Question in November’s Ballot

November’s ballot in Arkansas is among the hot topics at the moment, as the proposed casino amendment which received green light to be included is further questioned by the Ensuring Arkansas’ Future group. The organization is willing to prevent the voting of the said question with the help of a lawsuit as the exact language of the question could mislead many of the voters and eventually tip the scales in the wrong direction.

When it comes to voting and ambiguous wording, people have to be very careful how they interpret a given question and place their vote. In their attempt to voice their opinion and make a change on a state level, many of Arkansas’ residents might be confused and eventually misled by the latest Issue 4 question which was added to the ballot taking place at the very beginning of November. With the help of a lawsuit, the group aims to prevent the casino expansion amendment from being featured for voting.

Issues with the Approved Amendment Issue 4

Counties to the liking of Garland, Jefferson, Crittenden, and Pope have plaintiffs making a move towards the scraping of the said amendment, as there are several issues associated with it. According to the claims publicly issued by the group, the proposed and approved for a voting question is incomplete in its essence or could prove to bring more confusion to the process of voting.

The group states that the corporations of Southland Racing Corp. and Oaklawn Jockey Club, Inc. are eligible to a casino licensing but are not specifically included in the amendment language. The wording of the amendment could also be interpreted in a manner that implies the state authorities would be obliged to issue a total of four casino licenses to the proposed developers without a decline option.

Judging by the wording of the amendment in its current state, the locations in Crittenden and Garland Counties would also always be overseen by the current gambling operator. Voters have the right to make a conscious and informed choice at all times and this is especially true when it comes to ballots putting the community’s future at stake. This is why transparency and integrity of the process should be maintained.

Deadline Extension and Support

The additional time introduced by the authorities for the signature collection in support of the potentially beneficial idea has proved to give excellent results, as the overall number of supporters voicing their opinion surged. Driving Arkansas Forward, demanded a 30-day deadline extension which to give them more physical time to gather signatures and this brought the overall number of signatures to 137,000 unique signatures.

Right after the submission, Nate Steel, Attorney representing the group, stated that there should be more than 100,000 valid supporters once the review is concluded. In reality, following the careful inspection of all signatures collected by canvassers throughout the state, the figure reached 99,988 in total. As it was confirmed by Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office, this was considered sufficient for the introduction of the question to the scheduled ballot.

With the help of this amendment as many as two currently operating locations – Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs and Southland Park Gaming and Racing in West Memphis would witness expanded list of gambling activities. At the same time, the amendment could grant Pope and Jefferson Counties with the chance to witness brand new casino venues, respectively Russellville Casino and Pine Bluff Casino.

Backers of the proposed amendment have been many Native American tribes from neighboring state of Oklahoma, willing to protect their best interest. Throughout the campaign, Cherokee Nation Businesses significantly boosted the entire process with a donation reaching $525,300. In addition to that, the Quapaw Tribe also poured some $1.2 million and concerns have been expressed.

Concerns Raised throughout the Campaign

Members of the community taking problem gambling issues seriously and people opposing the casino expansion in general were among the first to point out issues. According to them, the Native American tribes are more interested in providing their members with steady work positions in Arkansas than in the well-being of the community.

Ensuring Arkansas’ Future includes in itself the Family Council Action Committee, as well as the Faith and Ethics Council, all willing to seek protection for the citizens. Sports betting would also be part of the Arkansas casino amendment if and when it comes true, which is projected to bring a windfall once operation on a state level commences.

Due to its popularity, many patrons are expected to make their way to the sports books available on site of the gaming venues. For the time being it has been established that there would be a 13-percent tax applied to casino revenue generated on a state level. This would be applicable up until the $150 million mark is crossed.

After that, the state gaming operation would be subjected to a 20-percent tax on the casino revenue generated, including sports book proceeds. People have expressed mixed signals towards the introduction of gaming in Arkansas and for the time being no firm estimation could be made. What is sure, is that the businesses applying for sports betting permit in Arkansas could potentially have the chance to do so around June next year.

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