Arkansas Voters Approve Casino Betting

Might as well keep going with the mid-term election information. In Arkansas on Tuesday, voters approved an amendment that would allow casino gambling in the country. Issue 4, as it was called, passed by a margin of 54.07 to 45.93 percent with 87 percent of the state’s precincts reporting.

Oaklawn Racing and Gambling in Hot Springs and Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis are automatically issued casino gambling licenses as part of the constitutional amendment. There have already been allowed to provide electronic skill games, but this now permits them to build out full casinos. The amendment also permits a casino to be build in Pope County and Jefferson County, but operators will need to go through an application process .

Interestingly, the inhabitants of Pope County voted against the measure.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson reluctantly accepted the outcome of the vote, stating,”I didn’t support this initiative, and I continue to have great concern over the immediate and negative effect on the state’s budget. But the people have spoken, and I respect their will. Time will tell as to what this implies for our state, and it remains to be seen as to whether the communities affected will consent to the gambling initiative.”

Governor Hutchinson thinks legalized casino gambling is going to have a negative effect on the state budget because the State Department of Finance and Administration estimated that there would actually be a $36 million decline in tax revenue in 2020 and 2021 (fiscal year begins July 1st). The cause of this is because the both Oaklawn and Southland will be taxed at a lower speed than before. The Department also does not expect the two other casinos to open until 2022. Supporters of Issue 4 refute those tests, stating the casinos would generate more tax revenue than previously.

The amendment also allows for sports gambling.

Lawsuit Threatened Ballot Measure

There was some controversy over Issue 4, as two teams, promising Arkansas’ Future and Citizens for Local Choice, filed lawsuits to attempt and prevent it from being placed on this week’s ballot. The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled against them about a month ago, so the measure was able to be inserted.

The groups did not argue that casino gambling was bad, though they are against gambling, but rather that the wording of measure was misleading and confusing. The Whole measure is too long to post here, but the”popular title” has been”Issue 4 — An Amendment to Require Four Licenses to be Issued for Casino Gambling at Casinos, One Each in Crittenden (to Southland Racing Corporation), Garland (to Oaklawn Jockey Club, Inc.), Pope, and Jefferson Counties.”

“The petition is insufficient because the ballot title fails to convey an intelligible idea of the scope and impact of the proposed Amendment, is materially misleading to the voters, and omits material information that is essential for a reasonable grasp of the Amendment,” contended Ensuring Arkansas’ Future.

The judgment against one of the lawsuits was unanimous, while Justice Jo Hart was the only dissenter in the other case.

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