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Voters in Pope County Set to Decide on Allocation of Expected Casino Revenue

Pope County voters are set to decide whether the expected casino revenue would be used for funding some improvements in the country, including a senior citizens center and a new jail.

As recently revealed by local media, the residents of Pope County will vote on whether to allocate over $80 million that are expected to be generated by casino operations for community improvement projects. The vote will take place on March 3rd, 2020.

Despite the fact that casino gambling was approved by Arkansas voters in 2018, Pope County was one of the four where local voters did not agree with the gambling expansion. Last year, state lawmakers officially gave the green light to a measure that provides four counties in the state with the chance to decide whether or not to allocate casino tax revenues towards community improvement projects.

As explained by County Judge Ben Cross, Pope County would need a tax increase in order to be able to fund a new jail in case the measure is not approved by local voters. He praised the Legislature members who came up with the measure that could have an immediate positive impact on the four Arkansas counties where Amendment 100 applies.

Bond Issue Needs More Detailed Information Before a Vote Is Held

According to Richard Harris, mayor of Russellville, a decision regarding issuing bonds needs more information. Mr. Harris explained that it is not easy to support a bond issue, as it is essentially a loan of a large amount of money. In addition, such a step would mean that the county and local communities would enter a close dependence on casino tax revenue for multiple years, and such a relationship could be entered into only in case people are fully aware of the impact that a casino establishment would have on their city and the county resources as a whole.

A local group, called Pope County Majority, has expressed its support for the above-mentioned bond initiatives.

Some residents of Russellville have already claimed that they back the bond issue saying that it would help the county fund some future amenities for local communities. According to Michael Ford, a resident of Russellville, such a step would guarantee that the casino net tax revenue would be used for funding community needs and would not be wasted or allocated towards other purposes neither present nor future officials.

Of course, the bond initiative idea has opponents, as well. Some of them say that such a step would not be in favor of the practice as it is associated with recognizing the most important current and future needs within the community. According to estimates, the potential casino gambling revenue could be worth $4 million on an annual basis, while the overall cost of the community improvement projects is estimated at about $80 million. This is found disturbing by opponents of the bond issue, as it would result in a dependence on the casino industry at least for the next twenty years.

 Author: Harrison Young

Harrison Young is an experienced writer, who started his career almost 8 years ago. Prior to joining our team at CasinoGamesPro, he worked as an editor for a small magazine.