The gambling resort project of Cherokee Nation Businesses is still on hold amid lingering legal action.
For now, the Native American nation has not scheduled a groundbreaking ceremony for Pope County’s $225-million Legends Resort & Casino, which is expected to directly employ over 1,000 people. Last week, the CEO of Cherokee Nation Businesses, Chuck Garrett, unveiled expectations that the construction will be completed for 18 to 24 months once the work officially starts following over 2 years of local opposition.
Mr. Garrett shared that the gambling company’s legal team is working to make sure that the pending lawsuits are quickly dismissed. He further noted that not all aspects of timing can be controlled by the operator, while other issues are fully in the courts’ hands. The company’s CEO explained that Cherokee Nation Businesses remains hopeful that the issue would be resolved as soon as possible so that the company is finally able to break ground on its Pope County casino resort project.
As revealed by Mr. Garrett, the gambling company has had successful a number of meetings with city planners and is now expecting to see the results of the latest studies on the environmental effects in order to move forward with its plans to purchase the land.
All Pending Litigation Needs to Be Cleared Before the Construction of Legends Resort & Casino Starts
Pope County’s Legends Resort & Casino is planned to feature a 50,000-square-foot gaming space hosting 32 table games and 1,200 slot machines. The venue will also include a 200-room luxury hotel with dining establishments, spa and pool, as well as 15,000 square feet of multipurpose space. The casino would have a separate entry so that the complex would remain family-friendly, as revealed by the gambling operator. The site that is set to host the Legends Resort & Casino project is a 130-acre location just north of Interstate 40.
Before any construction works start, Cherokee Nation Businesses needs to resolve pending legal action that involves a lawsuit filed by John “Cliff” Goodin, a resident of Pope County, as well as a motion that its Mississippi competitor Gulfside Casino Partnership.
As revealed by Mr. Goodin’s legal representative, his client’s claims involve two issues. The first one is that Legends Resorts & Casino was the actual applicant for the casino operating license but the permit was eventually issued to Cherokee Nation Businesses LLC/Legends Resort and Casino LLC. The second one is that the Legends Resorts & Casino was an unqualified applicant since it lacks any experience in gambling. If the claims are confirmed in court, that would mean that the state’s gambling regulatory body has not satisfied the conditions that were required to be met in order for a Pope County casino to start operation.
On the other hand, Gulfside Casino Partnership was the one that initially received the Pope County casino license. However, the company lost the permit after, in October, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a ruling saying that it had not made a valid application because it needed a letter of support from the current county judge, while the company’s application was supported by the former one.
Unfortunately, it could take months before Cherokee Nation Businesses sees pending litigation resolved. If either one of the two lawsuits is successful, the entire licensing procedure could be reset.
Mr. Garrett claims that the casino license is fully owned by Cherokee Nation Businesses, which is also the sole member of the Legends LLC. The company has over 30 years of professional experience in the gambling sector and currently operates 10 gambling venues through Cherokee Nation Entertainment, which is its hospitality unit.