Arkansas Puts Casino Legalization Efforts Forward

Private Arkansas Group has submitted a constitutional amendment proposal to Leslie Rutledge, the state’s Attorney General, regarding the construction of three new casinos. The proposal offers many benefits for Arkansas, whose authorization might well increase the budget for infrastructure and transportation projects.

According to the Driving Arkansas Forward group, all three casinos would be taxed 12%, reaching as much as $45 million USD each year. Tax money could then be used for road improvements and further economy boosts. However, the state’s current law does not allow any construction of standalone gambling establishments and a constitutional amendment is mandatory. Regardless, the aforementioned group has asked Attorney General to take the casino expansion statute into consideration and to name the ballot title before the upcoming November referendum.

If the state decides to give the green light to the amendment’s sponsors, a series of petitions will be triggered and the casino question will enter the November ballot. A total of 84,859 valid signatures must be turned in, so that the proposal can even qualify for the casino expansion.

As a reminder, the lobbying group has already made certain efforts and attempts to legalize gambling in Arkansas. The state’s Supreme Court ruled on an almost identical amendment back in 2016, preventing the construction of new venues. Nonetheless, if the measure gets passed and acquires enough support, a minimum investment of $100 million is obligatory.

As part of the state’s Department of Finance and Administration, the Lottery Division would be completely responsible and eligible for issuing casino licenses. Since the lobbyists and investors are interested in building three casinos (one in Jefferson County, one in Crittenden County and one in an unspecified county), any additional applicants will not be considered. To sum up, annual net gaming revenue might bring the much needed funds for road construction and other improvements, whereas the surplus would contribute to the cities’ economies.

Among the potential investors is also the Quapaw Tribe, which announced its plans to apply for one of the licenses and a $300 million investment – a casino resort hotel with commercial and entertaining complex.