After a planned meeting of the Arkansas Racing Commission was canceled following a court decision, Cherokee Nation Businesses is still expecting to see the results of its legal battle that should determine whether it would be granted permission to build a casino in Arkansas.
The state’s regulatory body was expected to take into consideration the casino application filed by Cherokee Nation Businesses. Unfortunately, the watchdog was imposed a temporary restraining order by Wendell Griffen, a Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge, on January 3rd, 2020.
Chuck Garrett, CEO of the conglomerate company, shared the operator’s disappointment with the recent turn of events and the continued delay. He further noted that Cherokee Nation Businesses’ team was ready to formally present its future plans to the local gambling watchdog at the beginning of the week but it still expects to be given this chance soon.
The court’s recent decision to impose a temporary restraining order to the state’s gambling regulator followed a successful campaign of the Citizens for a Better Pope County group that opposed the proposed casino establishment and managed to persuade the court that the Arkansas Racing Commission had broken its own rules by allowing a second casino application period.
The Second Round of Casino License Application Was Illegal, Anti-Casino Lobbyists Claim
The anti-casino lobbyist group claims that such a second application process would have been legal only in case no casino license applications were filed during the first phase.
As previously reported, the Arkansas gambling regulator received five applications during the first application process, including the one of Cherokee Nation Businesses, but all of them were turned down because none got references from county officials as required. During the second filing period, Cherokee Nation Businesses submitted an application featuring the required requisites.
Under the restraining order that was issued by the Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge, second filing periods are not addressed by the regulations of the Arkansas Racing Commission. In addition, the court found that the two application periods were not the same in duration, as the first was 30 days, and the second lasted for 120 days. According to the ruling made by the court judge, an amendment of the filing window is possible in case it is carried out in line with existing Arkansas’ gambling legislation and requires public notice and comment.
The recently issued order also prevents the Arkansas Racing Commission from making any decision based on the second round of casino license application process. A hearing on the plaintiffs’ motion for Preliminary Injunction has to be scheduled by the Trial Court Assistant.
Russellville attorney Anna Stirlitz said in a statement that the latest court order has calmed the situation down a bit after the Pope County residents’ opinions have been fully ignored at the process.