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Arkansas Chief Justice Opts Out of Both Ballot Casino Question Legal Disputes

Arkansas’ potential gambling legalization remains with questionable future as this Monday witnessed yet another complicated situation, this time including the state Chief Justice of Arkansas Supreme Court John Dan Kemp. As it turns out he opted for a second recusal in the past few days, this time from the second legal challenge against the proposed ballot question in relation to the future state gambling field.

One of the hot topics for the past couple of months has been the proposed casino regulation amendment which has the potential to welcome legal casino gambling within two of the existing venues and two to-be-built facilities. A total of four casino licenses could be distributed across the state if the expansion receives the approval of the community, but this has to happen with the help of a voting question set to take place this November.

Legal Actions Seek Fairness of Amendment

Now it has been confirmed that Chief Justice Dan Kemp has opted for recusal from both lawsuits, essentially excusing himself from the case. No reasoning has been provided for both instances for the time being. His decision comes as a result of two separate lawsuits filed in over the past week.

The second lawsuit against the proposed question voiced the opinion of Citizens for Local Choice. This Russellville-based committee strongly opposing the measure and chose to make a move against it with the help of Attorney Chris Burks filing in the legal paperwork.

Jim Knight is the President of this committee, striving to eliminate Issue 4 from November’s Ballot scheduled to transform 6th November into a memorable date for many Americans. This organized group is also responsible for the canvasing taking place earlier this summer, successfully achieving its goal to list a question seeking the opinion of the community about whether or not a casino venue is welcome in the area.

A total of 4,000 signatures had to be collected in order to reach the goal. There was also a deadline set for it, which made 6th August an important date on the group’s calendar. The lawsuit itself is aimed against Secretary of State Mark Martin, just like the first one emerging earlier this month. 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.

Since it is an important measure which could seriously impact the well-being and lives of many residents of the state, as well as their relatives and loved ones, the ballot question has to undergo a change of language bringing more transparency.

Initial Lawsuit Filed against Issue 4

Earlier in September Ensuring Arkansas’ Future introduced a lawsuit aiming to prevent the casino expansion amendment from being featured for 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. In the meantime, support of the idea coming from Indian tribes has managed to reach some $3 million.

The Quapaw Tribe has reached $2.48 million in donations by the end of August aiming to propel ahead promotion of the initiative introduced by Driving Arkansas Forwards committee. This adds to a previous investment coming from the Cherokee Nation Businesses further elevating the support expressed. According to the CEO of the Oklahoma-based holding, Shawn Slaton, this move is striving to secure the tribal job positions in Arkansas for people of the Cherokee Nation.

 Author: Hannah Wallace

Hannah Wallace has been part of our team since the website was launched. She has a master’s degree in IT.