A telephone meeting of the Arkansas Racing Commission is set to take place tomorrow to consider the argument of the Cherokee Nation that there is a good reason for the regulator to reconsider the tribe’s initial application for a casino operating license in Pope County.
There has been some turmoil in the proceeding after a letter describing some of the past actions of parties associated with Gulfside Casino Partnership of Mississippi, which is another company that has been willing to operate a casino venue in the county, was filed.
First, a local judge has ruled in favor of Gulfside Casino Partnership’s claims that the state’s gambling regulatory body did not have the power to require from casino license applicants to get the approval from current county and city officials as a condition to have their application considered. The casino operator had filed an application backed by some local officials and the county judge, who left the office at the end of 2018.
However, another circuit court case was the one that became the reason for the original permit applications’ reconsideration for good reason. Of course, Gulfside Casino Partnership is expected to argue that the subsequent endorsement of the Cherokee Nation as an eligible applicant in return for a benefits package worth $38 million does not constitute a good reason.
The Arkansas Gambling Watchdog Has Various Option for the Casino License Procedure
For the time being, the Arkansas Racing Commission has not decided whether it should appeal the order issued by Judge Tim Fox to invalidate the regulatory rule requiring a casino license application to be supported by current officials. If it decides to, the Commission could do so on April 15th, or it could simply give the nod to the “good cause” excuse provided by the Cherokee Nation.
Two other possibilities for the gambling watchdog of the state of Arkansas also exist. The regulatory body could also either start consideration of all five original applicants to make a “good cause” despite it is only Gulfside or the Cherokee Nation that can provide proof of local officials’ approval at this stage. The state’s Racing Commission could also give the casino operation license to Gulfside but that is a move that looks unlikely at this point.
Yesterday, a copy of Russelville-based Thomas Akin’s letter to one of the members of the Russellville City Council, Chris Olson, emerged. Mr. Olson has suggested that the City Council should approve the application of Gulfside. The proposal, however, does not have a legal effect on the process associated with the casino application process but it only fuels the pressure mounting on the Cherokee Nation to show some financial support in the form of a benefits package for Russellville.
For the time being, the mayor of Russellville has refused to take part in meetings regarding public benefits package.